T-Minus 3 Weeks
In about three weeks I’ll be hanging out in the capital waiting for a taxi to take me to the airport at 3:00 a.m. I’ll exit the taxi, take off my shoes, go through a metal detector, sit in sleepy anticipation, board a plane, and leave the ground of this island for the first time in 15 months.
I can’t wait.
There’s a phenomenon here that happens whenever I make plans well in advance. I see the date on my calendar, and in my head, and then just fixate on it. And then circumstances conspire to make me really want that date to arrive as soon as possible. My groups fall apart, the kids drive me crazy, my classes don’t go well—it could be any number of things. And then all those bad things make me want to get out of my site, and I see that calendar date approaching, and take comfort in it. By the time it arrives, it’s perfectly timed to be at the absolute worst, most difficult point in whatever troubles I’m having. So I get to leave my site, take a break, and then come back refreshed and happy and ready to tackle my projects again.
So that’s what’s happening with my American vacation. It’s still three weeks out, and things in site have been rough. Upon talking to my friends in my group, it seems that every one of us is in a one-year slump. Our projects are stalled or weak, our group attendance is far from 100%, and our optimism is at an all time low. We have a 1-year training coming up, and one of the sessions is simply entitled “Resiliency.” It sounds like Peace Corps knows what’s up as well. A day after the training ends, I’ll be flying out of Santo Domingo to Miami, hang out in Miami for a few hours—and probably go crazy from Americanness—and then touch down in Baltimore. And surely it will be at the perfect time.
In honor of being three weeks out from first-world bliss (or something like that), I’ve made a list of things I am most looking forward to in America.
- My friends. It will have been 15 months since I’d seen them. I’m excited to have time to catch up with some of the best people in my life.
- My family. My parents and brother came in December, so it’s only been a few months since I’ve seen them. But in the two weeks y pico that I’ll be in America I’m going to be visiting both sets of (living) grandparents, which will be great!
- Food. I’ve told my Dominican friends that the food I miss the most from America is foreign food. Pho, Korean food, Ethiopian food, Mongolian grill, I could go on and on. Northern Virginia and D.C. are a paradise for ethnic food, and I’m going to go to town on it when I get home.
- Driving. I miss my car something fierce. Considering Rosie is still in a state to drive, I’m going to take her out for a spin or two. I just hope 15 months without getting behind the car hasn’t ruined me.
- Good beer. There are three beers here, and they are not very good. To be fair, I’ve grown to appreciate a Presidente bien fria on a hot day, but I miss beer that is actually delicious. Happy hours and grocery stores, get at me.
- Places. Specifically Annandale, Williamsburg, and D.C. Those places are huge for me and I can’t wait to get back to them, be shocked by what’s changed, and revel in the familiar.
- Comfort. Cleanliness, hot showers, self-flushing toilets, CARPETS. I can do just fine without creature comforts, but that doesn’t make them any less wonderful.
- Quiet. My zinc house is currently vibrating to the music coming out of my host-sister’s massive speakers. Every phone call I have is interrupted by motorcycles roaring by. Huge packs of dogs fight in the middle of the night. It’s loud here, and if I recall correctly America is comparatively quiet.
At the same time, there are some things that I’m nervous about. A few friends have asked me if I’ll be overwhelmed and freaked out when I come back. Honestly? Yes, I think I will. But I also spent 22 years of my life there, so I’ll readjust. But some things are going to be strange.
- Toilet paper. I’m sorry in advance if I throw my used toilet paper in your trash can. That’s all.
- Quiet. I know I said above that I’m looking forward to the quiet. But at the same time, it’s going to be strange. I’ve gotten quite used to constantly hearing bachata and dembow in my barrio.
- Rules. I’m going to have to remind myself that I cannot carry an open beer down the sidewalk with me. Foolishness.
- Being polite. It’s not acceptable to hiss at people to get their attention, clack your change on the counter to be served, or shout someone’s name while standing outside their house to get them to come out. I will also probably call at least one baby fat, so, sorry for that. Not trying to curse any newborns over here.
There you have it. The anticipation outweighs the nerves. I’ve got about a week of classes left, then three days of meetings for Peace Corps initiatives, then my 1-year training, and then AMERICA.
This post also comes at a time when my blog has received just over 10,000 views! Thanks to everyone for following and commenting! I’ll keep on doing my best to entertain and inform!