This is far after the fact but I have seen a few friends during the holidays who have commented on the fact that I left my blog unfinished. I admit, I had been ignoring this particular task. I could blame it on the classic excuse of being busy, but I’ve watched too many episodes of Say Yes to the Dress since coming back to the states to have that be a legitimate excuse…
I have had a great time since coming home though. Lexi and I really did drive across the country, stopping to see old friends and even some fellow RPCVs along the way. I went back to school and managed to graduate as planned. I’ve been able to take weekend trips to San Francisco and Portland, go to music festivals and sporting events, eat sushi, play in the snow, win a few games of Just Dance on the Wii… I even have a smartphone. I have definitely re-integrated easily.
Except, if I am being honest, the first day back was terrible. There’s a long version but I’ll just boil it down to the main points: Debit card frozen, credit card expired, new card with sister. 12 hour layover in freezing airport with no internet. Unfreeze debit card in Miami Airport for it to be completely cancelled four hours later upon arrival in Las Vegas. Sleep deprived. Can’t uncancel card. Can’t get rental car. Can’t escape airport. Cry at the Budget Rental desk. Call friend, make her leave work and rent car for me. Argue with bank about getting new card in time for road trip three days later.
You know, it doesn’t sound all that bad now, but at the time it was a terrible homecoming. I was overwhelmed by all these ways in which living in the states is complicated and frustrating and was left thinking, “I don’t want to be in Guatemala, I don’t want to be here. Now what?” Melodramatic, I know, but the truth. Thankfully, things got better after that. I didn’t even have any grocery store freakouts.
Really, the hardest part of coming back has been something completely unexpected: learning how to talk about my time as a Peace Corps volunteer.
I have spent the last four months processing my experience and trying to figure out if I think it was worth it, if I’m happy with it. Yes, I finished, but I felt (and still do feel) I did not accomplish what I had set out to do. I let people down and felt that the Peace Corps administration let me down. I came back angry and disappointed and I was ashamed of those feelings. I wanted to be able to gush about my time in Guatemala and encourage others to sign up for “the toughest job you’ll ever love” but I wasn’t convinced I had loved it. In fact, I wasn’t sure I didn’t hate it.
The real reason I left this blog unfinished is that I simply wasn’t willing to spend anymore time thinking about my time as a Peace Corps volunteer. I kept trying to write my last post, but I just wanted to walk away from it. I needed space and perspective. I was excited to focus on other things and I did… for four months.
I still don’t think I’ve really come to terms with everything or fully processed my experience, but I am pretty sure of a few things:
I would do it again. I’m glad I don’t have to, but I would.
I miss many people who I met through my experience as a Peace Corps volunteer. I miss my fellow volunteers and I miss some incredible Guatemalans who made my experience worthwhile. It’s been particularly hard watching my training class scatter, seeing remaining volunteers continue adventures I can’t be a part of and missing important milestones and moments in my Guatemalan friends lives.
And I didn’t hate it.