Two years ago today, I arrived via plane into this really hot and strange Eastern European country that no one had ever heard of. Two days ago, a group of 50 new people arrived. I didn't go up and greet them this time, but I certainly know what they're going through.
For the first week I was here I kept repeating to myself "what am I doing here" and "what did I get myself in to?" There were many times when I just wanted to throw my hands up in the air and go home. And that's all I had to do. All I had to do was walk into the office and say "I want to go home" and they would have me on a plane in 72 hours. It could have been the moment when I stood at the bottom of the hill where I would live for 8 weeks and looked upwards and realized I would have to climb it every day at least twice a day all summer in the hottest weather I had experienced in a long time. Perhaps it could have been the first morning when I woke up and saw that all my cash and my passports were gone. (They were recovered later that day from a fellow volunteer who had accidentally taken the wrong bag...don't worry, I still give him shit about it). It could have been that first week in trying to learn Romanian and realizing just how bad I am in 'school.' (I'm sure it's some form of ADD because I cannot retain things, I just lose interest. And when someone puts a test in front of me, it just escapes me. Sure wish I knew that back in HS.) Or maybe it was sitting in a room of post-grads realizing that they were all going to school or had gone to school for some form of public policy or development and I was way out of my league. But I didn't. I stayed. Why? Because it took almost a year and a half to get here and I wasn't just going to turn around and go home. Mainly because, I had no home. I had no car. I had no job. So I better just give this a shot since it was, at the moment, all I had.
But I'm not saying all this to make myself out to be a hero because I'm so not. I guess I'm just proud of myself for not giving up when they actually do make it pretty easy to do so. Many of the people I arrived with chose that option. I don't judge them for it, they had to do what they had to do. But being one of the 31 people left standing is a big point of pride.
Am I sad to leave? Not really. I will be sad to say goodbye to Moldovans and a few Americans, but it will be okay. I love the people I have met and the experiences I have had, but it's time to go.
I'll take this opportunity to answer the same questions I am asked over and over again:
- Are you going back to Too Faced? I can't believe how many people have asked me this. I love Too Faced, I love the people there and I loved my time there, but one of the points of coming here is that I wanted to do something different with my life. Going back to the same company and the same job would kind of make this entire 2.5 years moot, no? So no, I'm not going back there. They are some of my best friends there, but my time there is done. I think all of us would agree on that. And I think it would be pretty arrogant of me to think that they are just holding a job for me counting the days until I returned. They are not. And that's okay.
- Are you going back to LA? For the time being, yes. I have a great community of friends there and I like living on the West Coast. Plus, the opportunities there are limitless.
- Will you be working for the Peace Corps? Possibly. I am going to explore the opportunities they have to offer and if it works out that way, then yes, maybe.
- Will you take a job elsewhere? Yes. I love Los Angeles and I would love to live there again, but if I am offered a job in DC or NY or SF or even overseas, then yes, I will take it.
- When are you arriving in the U.S.? August 5th (or 6th), I will arrive in Newark, NJ and spend a few weeks with my family in Pennsylvania as well as visit some friends from college in Philly, Kutztown and NY.
- When are you arriving in LA? Hopefully right before or right after Labor Day.
- When do you leave Moldova? Tuesday, July 9th, 9:00pm. :)))
- Where will you travel? I will be in Ireland and Iceland for approximately a month...unwinding.
- Are you worried about coming back to the U.S.? Yes. I am. I have changed. I know time hasn't stood still and the ego in me will find that hard to take, but I'll get over it. I also may go through a period of "these are not problems" when I hear people complaining about trivial things. Sorry about that, I'll do my best to keep it in check. I'm also having trouble speaking English fluently and correctly. I have had a few conversations on Skype with people back home where I cannot remember the English word for things. So that will be interesting. And witnessing the excess and all of the things that we have that we take for granted. I will be relying on other RPCV's (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers) for support in this as they will be the only ones who can relate.
- Are you concerned coming back without a job or a place to live? Yes. I have people I can stay with, I have friends who will temporarily employ me but yes, I am concerned. But I'm also ridiculously positive that something will work out. Perhaps this is something I should be more worried about?
- Are you excited to eat U.S. food? Hell, yes! However, there's a catch. I've been living for 2 years on a completely organic and unprocessed diet so I have to be careful. I wish I could just arrive and gorge on everything I see, but I can't. So I'll probably be a little snobby about eating organic foods. I am excited to have a big old Italian sub sandwich...but it will kill my stomach for days.
- How have you changed? Not sure. I just have. You tell me. I'm skinnier, so that's cool.
- What's the first thing you will do? Hug my Mom...for a while.
- Do you regret joining the Peace Corps? Nope. Not for one second.
|The welcome sign to Chisinau. I don't know why the photographer didn't feel the need to include the entire word.|