Dear Internet,

Well five months have gone by! Not bad at keeping up with this blog, huh?

At this point I’m so close to leaving that I feel like it just needs to happen. It just shadows everything I do. Today I replaced a roll of toilet paper and thought, This is probably the last roll of toilet paper I’ll replace before I leave. I don’t want replacing toilet paper to lead to me to thinking about my life choices. I just don’t.

Every time I see a friend we have to awkwardly part with, So, this will? not? be the last time I see you for the next few years? It’s KIND OF a buzzkill. Suddenly every day is like a drawn out goodbye.

The worst days are when I feel like I’m just waiting. Like I’m on Death Row or something (I will probably have to edit this out later so that JFK doesn’t get mad at me). It reminds me of when Anne Boleyn is waiting to be executed by the best executioner in all of France but she just wants to get it over with. Wow, I really don’t like this whole comparing my departure to execution. It is slightly terrifying but I think it’d be much more terrifying if I wasn’t going and I was just living with my parents for the foreseeable future. For them too.

It’s crazy to think that I interviewed in Chicago a year ago. I remember, during my interview, I was telling a story in order to answer a question and got so off track and tangential that I had to ask him what the question was again. I saw him again at the Peacemaking Conference at Knox in the Spring and told him that story and laughed, “I don’t know why you nominated me!” We kept talking and I was telling him how I’d walked over to campus wondering what it would be like to truly be where I am and devote myself to the people I am with. After moving, going to boarding school, studying abroad, and living attached to a phone and facebook I find that it is my normal to live slightly removed from wherever I am. He stopped and said, “That’s why I nominated you, Laura.”

See, I’m trying to make this blog entry more positive after the whole Anne Boleyn reference. I am very grateful he said that. I hope I’ll remember it in moments when I need to reassurance.

Jody Olsen was the keynote speaker at the conference and she shared Peter Hessler’s (a RPCV who get a MacArthur genius grant) recollections about his Chinese self: Funny in a simple way, dumb, quick to laugh, friendly, and nicer. I’ve experienced this to a degree studying abroad. It’s certainly uncomfortable or disconcerting not be able to convey yourself fully, but when I was abroad I never needed community cohesion or to collaborate with anyone. So, let’s hope I haven’t completely forgotten Spanish over the summer.

An* RPCV, Hannah, came to the conference. She had really interesting insights and was the only female RPCV Knox alum there. I was really grateful to have her perspective. She didn’t live with a host family while overseas; she lived on her own and talked openly with me sharing that, “It’s incredibly lonely.”  She told me she just consistently showed up at this one family’s house around dinnertime…I’m going to have to get a lot better at putting myself out there.

While this whole thing is slightly terrifying – knowing that my life is going to change – I feel like the changes were always meant to be. I feel like I’ve lived this for a long time and that everything has led up to it. I’ve never felt like anything was fated until this. I’ve also realized in these last few months that I’m not making a sacrifice by choosing this, if there are any sacrifices involved, my friends and family have been stuck with them. I’m essentially checking out in a lot of big ways for the next 27 months and I won’t be able to be the friend or family member who’s around. I’ll find ways to love from far away, but I’m very lucky that they/you are so supportive.

I’ll end with a list. If you know me, it probably shouldn’t surprise you that I’m already packed and started packing and making lists months ago. For anyone who might be doing something similar, the list is here as a reference:

CLOTHES/ACCESSORIES

  • Underwear
  • Socks + pair of warm socks
  • Bras
  • Sports bras
  • Camis
  • Tank tops
  • T-Shirts
  • Long sleeves
  • Work shirts
  • Cardigans
  • Jackets
  • Rain jacket
  • Poncho
  • Gloves
  • Warm hat
  • Baseball hat
  • Scarves
  • Sports shorts
  • Shorts
  • Capris
  • Yoga pants
  • Sports leggings
  • Jeans
  • Dress pants
  • Bikinis
  • 1-piece swimsuit
  • Dresses
  • Skirts
  • Sunglasses
  • Flip-flops
  • Dressy sandals
  • Black flats
  • Tennis shoes
  • Water sandals

HYGIENE/HEALTH

  • Towel
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Loofah
  • Lotion
  • Toothbrush/floss/toothpaste/mouthwash
  • Nail file/nail clippers
  • Chapstick with SPF
  • Medicine (Ibuprofen, Aleve, etc.)
  • First-aid kit
  • Razor
  • Brush
  • Hairbands/headbands

FUNCTIONAL

  • Sunscreen
  • Nalgene
  • Swiss army knife
  • Flashlights
  • Sewing kit
  • USB
  • Power strip
  • Office supplies
  • Clothespins + line
  • Headlamp
  • Cookbook (from my Grandma!)
  • Passport pouch + money belt

RECREATION

  • Books **
  • Kindle
  • MP3 + headphones
  • Laptop
  • Diary
  • Notebooks
  • My attempt at an address book
  • Stationery starter kit
  • Camera + rechargeable batteries
  • Map of DR + guide book (from my Uncle Randy 🙂
  • Playing cards
  • Photos
  • World map

LUGGAGE

  • Suitcases
  • Backpack
  • Purses

* I can’t decided whether to use ‘a RPCV’ or ‘an RPCV’. So I might just rotate.

**LOTR trilogy / En el tiempo de las mariposas / Los mares del sur / Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell / War & Peace / Letters to a Young Poet / Shock Doctrine / A Short History of Nearly Everything / The Elegant Universe / A People’s History of the United States

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