Recently I was at my cousins wedding, a glorious Peace Corps affair – her and her husband served together in Kyrgyzstan – and her husband was asking me about my last six months. He pointed out that many volunteers kind of zone out when it comes to the end, as they start focusing on planning for life stateside and thinking about the things they miss from the states (cheese, feminism etc.).
I assured him I wasn’t zoning out, that I was super excited to get back to site and get back to work and life here. And while this is largely true, I still feel more ambivalent about being back than I thought I would. A large part of this is general second-year-syndrome.
This sickness is largely a liberating feeling – that I no longer care as much what my neighbors think of my odd American habits, and I don’t beat myself up as much as I used to about say, not going to church or passing on a grog circle. These are everyday experiences, and not particularly exciting. I find the main thing is just not spending too much time alone – I may not be going out to the village on a particular night, but I have students over and we cook and talk and play Connect 4.
I’m determined to make the most of the rest of my time here, but to me, making the most of it means enjoying myself. The many, many losses we’ve had this year have taught me that if one is to live, one must live joyfully, to the extent possible and responsible. So while Wednesday night I gave a speech on drinking and violence at the school and then grogged all night with some Suva folks, I went out Thursday night (Friday was a national holiday – Sports Day, I shit you not) with a mixed crew of fellow volunteers and site friends. And of course, Ruth, Belena and I ended up carrying a drunk, knocked out, bleeding stranger into a taxi after other folks stopped a fight. The night after I’d talked at the school about drinking and violence. Classic.
* Also, to be more clear on my timeline itself – our close-of-service date is Nov. 6, four and a half months from now. My current plan is to stay out through the end of the school year and my birthday, leaving at the end of November/early December. Our COS conference is exactly one month from now.