Halfway through Peace Corps Training

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I know I’ve been uploading mainly pictures.  So here’s a real writing update.  Today marks five weeks in Morocco.  Only 109 weeks to go =).  It’s strange thinking that this much time has already passed.  Like the rest of humanity, I’ve been fascinated by the passage of time since I was a teenager.  But this is the first period since high school that time has felt extremely fluid.  Like high school, each day is jam-packed with class, social interaction, frustrations, and excitement.  Unlike high school, each day is a massive cultural experience.  That’s not even mentioning the speech barrier.

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Despite these busy days, these five weeks have passed by in a snap.  At times I can’t believe that I’ve been in Africa for five weeks.  Other times, it feels like I’ve been here a year.  That’s why I’ve always been so fascinated with time.  It is going by so quickly and so slowly at the same time.  I’m quickly realizing what is difficult to be away from and what is easy to be away from.  Being away from my girl makes it feel like years have passed.  Being away from the entertainment world of America makes it feel like no time has passed at all.

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I was certain I was going to Early Terminate in the first two weeks of training.  It was a strange mixture of circumstances that brought me to that conclusion.  I even told my father I might be able to watch some Broncos games with him next season.  Then we started taking a little time out of our language lessons to start teaching English to the children in our community.  That changed a lot for me.  Being able to genuinely help students was exactly what I needed.  Then, during a free weekend, I had a long conversation with a close Peace Corps friend.  Now I have a hard time seeing what would make me go home.

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It doesn’t feel like an emotional roller coaster…but that is because the days stretch on for vast amounts of time.  The truth is I experience multiple ups and downs in a day.  I have overall amazing days and overall sucky days.  In the end, in the past two weeks, little has brought me down for a long period of time.  Once I got settled into the idea of spending two years here, I started making plans.  I know what my plans are for my Peace Corps service—but there are going to be long periods where I need to just fill time (like during the summer when it’s 120+ degrees outside).  For that, I made a list of personal goals.  This includes many writing goals—including finishing a film script I started working on last week.  Having a set of personal goals was exactly what I needed.

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We’ve talked to a lot of current volunteers.  All of them have advice.  All of their advice is simple.  But there’s this strange feeling when I am around them.  It’s like walking into a movie at the theater and seeing other people walking out.  You know that they just experienced what you are about to experience.  You want to know, but you don’t.  I have this strange sensation that I have important questions to ask the current volunteers….but I can never figure out what to ask.  It’s rather amusing.

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I am continuously reminded of something I wrote while in Tacoma with my girl.  It was about home.  It was then that I realize I did not have a home.  It isn’t with my parents.  It isn’t Tacoma.  It isn’t my grandmother’s old condo.  It isn’t my host family.  It won’t be my final site.  What I realize back then is that home isn’t a place—it’s people.  No matter how I look at it, I feel the tether to those I love.  I know where my home is.  Although I love this country and I’m dedicated to spending two years here, I know my home is safe in Tacoma.

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Love & Fear

I am on my tenth day in Washington State.  I came here to figure out a lot.  For one, I wanted to challenge myself.  I wanted to throw myself as far away from the monotony of daily life and prove that I could endure it.  Ever since this summer, I’ve been afraid.  I don’t want anxiety over little fears to be a daily part of my life.  If, however, I must accept it, I want it only on the condition that I view it as a challenge I cannot walk away from.  I want to confront my fear head on.

The other reason I came to Washington was for love.  That’s not to say that I am in love.  Moreso, for the first time in far to long, I feel as though it is a possibility.  These ten days have opened me up in ways I haven’t felt in years.  This intense emotion has helped me challenge my fear, start writing in new ways, and has made me genuinely happy.  I don’t know what to make of these strange twist of fate…but I know now that they are worth it.  So long as you do succumb to anxiety and fear, you will find your way.

With Love,
Richard

P.S.–This entire post reminds me of Donnie Darko.  Please ignore that aspect of it.

My Affliction