atlanta: the jumping off point
some of you may be wondering, what happened to all the stuff you already wrote?
don’t worry, it has been sent out for polishing.
much like i feel that a blog should always be an honest representation of one’s self (and so many of you had a chance to have a good look at my medical clearance forms, my legal holds, etc), i also feel like a travel log is a living thing.
it’s like… life is a play, and act one has ended.
act one, in which our hero deals with much the same cast of characters as usual, struggles through the unknown obstacles, perseveres toward the bigger adventure, and packs a scarf for a trip to subsaharan africa, has come to a close (and it shall be polished and represented at some point), and we move on to act two.
act two: in which our protagonist removes himself from everything he has come to know, willingly quotes shakespeare in a room full of strangers, and becomes a minor folk hero for his underpacking skills.
so, here i am in atlanta, where the entirety of the 2011 ethiopian peace corps is converging to play team building games and get yellow fever shots (sorry, asian ladies, i will be immune to your advances) and there is so much to say.
let’s start at the beginning.
SFO airport, where i picked up my boarding pass and officially became a part of the peace corps. from there, the first, ohhh… six hours of my adventure was spent with about a dozen different intense things going on inside me all at once. i had no idea what to think, or do. i spent so much of my wait, and subsequent flight, checking out everybody at the airport and on the plane, wondering who, if any, of these people were going to be stuck with me for the next 2 years.
at baggage claim, i waited, and i waited, and i waited, and finally i had nothing better to do, since my bag obviously wasn’t coming out of the chute, so i asked the person next to me if she was headed to ethiopia on tuesday.
lo and behold, i had found the only other person on the flight that was. this little achievement washed over me with a great sense of accomplishment. it’s all about the little things, right?
in highschool i had to write an essay on where i felt the most comfortable, what specific place i felt truly at home. at the time, there was this awesome barstool at my friend’s house, and there was just something about that stool…
but if i had to write the same essay today, i think i would say that, while there is something to be said for the comforts of home, i feel the most comfortable when i am outside my comfort zone. i of course have all the trepidations that most people have when i endeavor into the unknown, but you know what? it’s just never as bad as all that. sometimes it only takes a momentary lapse of diffidence, a brief flirtation with curiosity, and it all feels OK. and when you’ve broken through and come to accept your new circumstances, there is so much to gain. there is an infinite amount of space in our lives to carry with us the experiences, knowledge, and friends that we collect along the way, and when i move on to something new, i keep with me all those things.
so here we all were, in a conference room at the atlanta westin, and just in case everyone in the room hadn’t had that moment of release from our adventure wariness, we had to play ice breaker games. one specifically in which we were asked to perform skits about troublesome peace corps scenarios that were handed to us at random. my group gets the one where “jennifer” (no relation to another vegetarian jennifer i know ;) ) has claimed to be a vegetarian only because she is protesting the industrialized meat factories in the US and would happily eat meat abroad if presented with the opportunity… until her host family in the south pacific slaughters a pig for her.
well, except for the part where jennifer thinks she’s going to throw up if she even has to think about eating it, i thought, wow, that’s pretty much me in a nutshell. somehow that quickly led to me standing in front of the room, with a “jennifer” name tag on, improvising a comically altered version of the macbeth soliloquy in the graveyard. if only mr. bramfitt could see me now (those of you who were with me in that highschool english class that i have now twice referenced, will get that).
at this point i think i’ve come to accept that for at least a week or so, every day will be a new adventure in which we are asked to completely turn everything we know on its ear, and push forth.
so next thing’s next, we’re all about to head off to have a pint or two, and then, since we can’t really get much farther east, i think we’ve agreed to just fly on over to germany in slacks and dress shirts.
stay tuned for our next episode: you already did what?!
couldn’t have said it better myself:
odd thing that i, who used to clear out for any part of the world at twenty-four hours’ notice, with less thought than most men give to the crossing of a street, had a moment–i won’t say of hesitation, but of startled pause, before this commonplace affair. the best way i can explain it to you is by saying that, for a second or two, i felt as though, instead of going to the centre of a continent, i were about to set off for the centre of the earth.
-joseph conrad, heart of darkness
easy listening: arcade fire : halflight II (no celebration)