I was invited to a dinner in LA with the Peace Corps last evening at an Indian restaurant. I went back and forth for a while on whether or not I wanted to attend. I tend to get a little shy when it comes to walking in to a room full of strangers but since that is how I'll be spending the next few years, I figured it'd be best to get used to it. I decided to go. I arrived early, because that's how I am. (I have spent more time sitting in my car early for events than I care to admit...)
The second I walked in to the restaurant, I felt at ease. I was standing in a room full of people who were going through the same thing as me. I told the receptionist I was an Invitee and she got very excited and gave me a name tag. She told me to go in and look for my region table. I immediately saw the Eastern Europe table where there were 4 ladies and a gentleman talking. I introduced myself immediately but noticed that there were only 5 seats at the table. I saw another Eastern Europe table across the way and headed in that direction. There was an older gentleman who had been a volunteer in the 60's in Bolivia and Turkmenistan, 2 kids who were applicants (I have the right to say kids, right?) and 3 empty seats. I sat down and introduced myself and listened to "Richard's" stories. Two more girls joined us, one of which was also heading to Moldova in a few weeks.
Not being a big fan of Indian food, I didn't eat much, but more soaked up the conversations. The head of the party introduced all of the returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RCPV's) and they announced the countries they had served in and when. The room immediately fell in love with a little old couple who had served and met in Iran in the early 70's and had been married ever since. They gave each other kissed followed by a room full of applause. Also a newer couple who had returned from Moldova 2 years ago, who had also met there and were soon to be married received applause. Then they introduced the Invitees. I was surrounded by about 30 people who were also leaving within the next few months to places ranging from my country of Moldova, to Mongolia, to China, to the Philippines, to Nicaragua to Togo to West Africa. It was crazy that we were all intertwined and yet about to go on such different adventures. After dinner, I made my way over to the couple who had lived in Moldova and picked their brains about the country and the experience. We talked for over an hour.
I'm really glad I did wind up going as it did make me feel like I'm doing okay and stressing out about the right things. I still am stressed about getting rid of my car but I know I can handle it all. I know that the reward at the end of the next few weeks will be worth it.