I sit here staring up at the stars. The first shooting stars of the night should be come at any moment. There is no moon—making tonight the perfect opportunity. It took me a couple minutes to find the darkest place to sit. A place where the dim yellow light of the city doesn’t interfere with the night sky. I sit there and stare up at the sky.
That’s when it hits me. I don’t know how to tell you what I am experiencing. I can tell you about the stars. I can tell you about the dim light of the city. Hell. I can tell you about the dogs wailing off in the distance—in their eternal fight for more territory. I can show you the mountain behind my city and how tell you how angry I am that it is being mined into the groud. I can point out the mosque I can see from my roof and explain to you that I can hear the call to prayer—every day—five times a day.
But that will only graze the surface. There’s no way for me to paint a picture that properly tells you how amazing this experience is. How difficult it is. How I’ve cried for hours. How I’ve been numb for days. How I’ve been happier than I’ve been in a very long time. There’s no way to put 90% of what I see into words. Sure, I write to you every day in my diary. I tell you what I encounter on a daily basis. But I pick and choose. If I wrote a full account of what I came across every day—I wouldn’t experience as much because I’d be writing for hours on end.
The only way I can get you to understand what I am going through is by bringing you here. My parents are coming in a month. As I figure out what to do with their short time here, I’m hit with a strange dilemma. I want to fit in so much. But I have to accept that they won’t be able to see what I see. I can wander this country without being much stress anymore. That’s not going to be the case with my parents. It’ll be a whirlwind. They will understand my life much better. But it still won’t put them in my shoes.
As I sit here looking up at the stars, I can tell you that I am lonely. And that’s okay. Today marks 1/3 of service. That is a strange comfort to me. I can feel time passing—a necessity to remind myself that I will be back home someday—even if I do not understand where home is anymore. It also reminds me of how much time I have left. A deep reminder that I need to fit as much as I can in to the little time I have left here.
It impossible to tell you about the passage of time. I look back home and see people living their lives. A few things have changed, but life remains the same. Meanwhile, I’ve been sucked into a vortex. The person I was nine months ago wouldn’t recognize the person I am today. I could Early Terminate right now. I could go home. I could see my friends and family. You. I could eat the food I so desperately want to eat. It would be good for a week. Maybe a month. But I wouldn’t know what to do. How do you explain what has happened to you when you can’t even understand it yourself?
540 days from now, I’ll sit out here again. Downstairs my apartment will be bare—picked apart my new volunteers who are just starting out. It’ll be my last night in the apartment. In the morning I’ll hand over the keys. I’ll get in a Grand Taxi and say goodbye to this strange town. Sitting there, staring up at the stars, I’ll breath. I’ll cry. I’ll laugh. I’ll be terrified and excited about the idea of returning to America—much like how I felt in the days prior to coming here. I will have come full circle—ready for my next adventure.
Until then, I’ll enjoy the ride and continue writing.