I'm sitting here in Cahul in my new bedroom in my new place of residence. It feel like I should be somewhere but I actually don't...and it's weird.
Yesterday was a whirlwind and it went really fast. I woke up early and got all my tons of luggage down the stairs. Everyone in the house was still sleeping. Mama Gazda finally woke up and apologized profusely as she thought I was leaving at 10. She made me a quick breakfast which I barely had time to finish before the bus pulled up at the house. I was sad that we only had a few minutes together on our last morning but I know she felt worse. We said a quick goodbye and I was off. We traveled around Stauceni and picked up everybody. The van was overloaded with luggage as it seems we have all doubled our belongings in the past 2 months. We barely fit in. We arrived early in Chisinau and just sat around and chatted with all the volunteers. Only COD's and ARBD's were being sworn in. The EE's and the HESC's still had 2 more weeks of training so we were a group of 26.
So we're taken into the hub site room, the room where we have spent the past 8 weeks once a week listening to seminars, where Jeremy, Jesse and I would sit towards the back and crack jokes that weren't appreciated by anyone but us. It was fitting this was the last place we'd all be together. Jeffrey, the country director, swore us in privately as we took the oath that every federal employee takes, yes even the President. We do this privately and then have a public ceremony that our new host families, partners and PC Staff can attend. So we all got to sit on the stage just like graduation. Jeremy, Jesse and I sat in the back row which made me happy that we could just one last time sit together and laugh. We understood the value and seriousness of the ceremony, but there were still things to laugh at. And I was really happy that I got to get sworn in with the 2 guys that made me laugh all summer. The ceremony lasted about an hour with speeches given by one ARBD, Joseph, and two COD's one in Romanian and one in Russian, Lindsay and Maria respectively. Afterwards we had a small reception. I finally got to meet my new Mama Gazda since she was on vacation when I went on the site visit. She was very sweet. I still didn't know how we were getting to Cahul so I asked Liliana to let me know. After 'lunch' we had to have a host family conference where the doctors, the security team and the program managers had to advise the new host families of all the rules and regulations. That was a tough part of the afternoon. We were all extremely tired and the entire seminar was in Romanian and Russian. Even the best of speakers had trouble following so we were basically just sitting there for a few hours waiting until we could leave. Thankfully, since we had a long trip ahead of us, the Cahul bus wanted to leave right away. Jesse's partner and host mom along with my post mom had hired a driver to take us to Cahul. I was grateful. The thought of getting on public transportation with all that luggage was giving me anxiety.
And then came the hard part. I was looking around the room at all these people and all of a sudden I realized, I wasn't going to see them. We weren't going to have language class in the morning, we weren't all going to go hike into the woods in the next few days, we weren't gonna have hub site next week, we weren't going out for a beer in Chisinau. It was done. An overwhelming feeling of sadness came over me, but I had to hold it together. The worst part was, with this unsettling onslaught of emotion, I now had to go around and say goodbye. It was a different emotion for every goodbye hug. "I'll miss this girl because of..., I'll miss this guy because of..." but every one was sad. I won't say which was the hardest and which wasn't too bad because I'm not going to rank my friends, but there were definitely some that almost broke me.
Jesse and I along with our new Cahul counterparts piled into the van and took off on our journey. We were about 2 hours in when this happened:
There wasn't a lot that we could do so we had to get out of the van, unpack all the luggage and wait for about an hour while the driver changed the tire. It was odd, but at least there was a pretty view.
So we got to Cahul around 7:30. I was pretty exhausted. The apartment was on the 4th floor and I dreaded dragging all my shit up there. And like magic, the van pulled up, mama gazda motioned and 3 young Moldovan lads appeared and ran (literally) my luggage upstairs. She gave them each a little cash and I wanted to hug them. On the drive to Cahul I kept thinking about lugging all that up the stairs and it was done. So now I'm here. I don't start work for another week so I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my timpul liber (free time). I'm reminded of the Kurt Vonnegut book "TimeQuake." In the book, there is a "timequake" in which there is no free will for a period of 10 years. Once it is restored, people don't remember how to do anything. The moment it happens buses crash into trees, people fall down because they don't remember how to walk...
This is a little bit how post-training feels. For 8 weeks, we were told when to wake up, when to be where, when to eat, when to sleep and now it's all free will. It's a strange feeling. And without all the usual comforts of the people you've just gone through the 8 weeks with is very strange.
At the end of September we have to go back to Chisinau for 2 more weeks of training. The 26 of us. I'm interested to see how it will be to go back to that rigorous schedule, seeing these people who I've bonded with. Were we really friends? Who will I miss the most? Who will I be so glad to see? Who will I think 'why did I even like that person before?' Or "why did I never notice this person before?" It's something to look forward to. In the meantime, I have to get to know this city. My city; Cahul.
2 years of service begins...today.