Thursday, February 14, 2013

You say goodbye, and I say...goodbye.

These days I'm writing like a woman on fire, which suits me.  The funny thing- is that I often find it easier to write when I'm addressing an invisible internet audience.  It's harder to write to myself.  Or for myself.  I'm going to try to work on that.

I'm finding my stride a bit better here, in some ways.  I'm now on two soccer teams, which partially fills my overwhelming need to run around and kick things most days of the week.  I'm going to sign up for the spring ultimate frisbee league here.  I'll start running when Minnesota looks and feels less like Siberia.  I'll resuscitate my bike back to life, with the help of an old friend, and start riding to work.  Oh, and that's another thing.  See, I got a job!  I'll be a Teen Outreach Program Coordinator at this great placed called Neighborhood House.  Neighborhood House provides services to immigrants and refugee communities in the area, including free adult ELL/computer classes, a food shelf, homework help, etc.  It's great.  I always had it in the back of my head as my 'ideal' place to work.  At any given time, there are several RPCV's and AmeriCorps folks working there.  Foreign languages are thrown around like it ain't no thang.  There are people from East Africa, Central America, Eastern Europe, Asia.  It's so international.

I'm cognizant of my tendency towards wander-lust, and I believe a job like this will keep my feet and heart in Minnesota for a while at least, especially because I'll be working with people from all over the world.  And, I need that.  I can't just go frollicking off somewhere bizarre just yet.  That would be an easy way out.  It's probably harder being home right now, and trying to carve out some sort of pleasing, workable, social life for myself here.  I can't guarantee anything in the future, say a year from now- who can?- but for now, I'm excited to try my hand at living and working in the Twin Cities, a place where I have never lived as an adult. 

So, I'm steadily becoming busier.  This also suits me.  Not too busy, mind you.  Just some exciting, active, and stimulating things to do each week.  I'm still trying to hit my stride regarding friends.  Luckily, I live with two of them, so I get to see them every day.  So pleased with that.  But, I have other friends in the cities.  Because I live somewhat far from most of them and also because I don't have a car, I'm a little worried that I won't see them as much as I would like.  I'm also not used to spending a lot of time doing social things with friends- a big adjustment for many RPCV's- and it may just take me some time. 

The things that aren't so easy?  Sudden separation.  I feel like I've been severed from an essential organ in my body. 


Her life was so closely patterned off goodbyes.  Not only patterned, but also deeply loyal to the idea of goodbyes.  She simply couldn’t imagine a world or a time when people weren’t constantly leaving each other for foreign countries, schooling, or jobs.  Her only constant was this knowledge that no matter how closely she held someone, she would in the not-far-future have to mourn their inevitable separation from her life.  Not only her!  Many were like this.  But, not all.  And that’s where her wonder found its fixation. 

This is an excerpt from some prose I wrote the other day.  I have been reflecting a lot on how much more comfortable and accustomed I am to saying goodbyes than to saying hellos.  I realize that it's an international pattern, some side-effect of globalization.  We aren't our parent's or grandparent's generation.  We don't so easily meld our lives together now.  We meet, love intensely, and then say fond but purposeful goodbyes.  We embark on personal journeys, fly across oceans, move to other cities.  We see it as necessary (and inevitable) to put other things before people.  BUT!!  Not all of us.  That's the thing.  I have so many examples of friends and family who HAVE succeeded in staying together, in happily melding their lives together.  Couples who sacrifice for each other, so that they can be together.  That's why I sometimes wonder if it's a personal thing.  Global trend or not- people still make it work.  

Here's the thing though.  Even though I'm a lot more used to saying goodbye than facing all of the terrifying implications of staying together, it has never become easier.  On the contrary, I'm becoming much less adept at recovering from these goodbyes.  The worry is that I'll never see it as normal or healthy to actually make that sacrifice, boldly take a step towards someone instead of some job, travel, or adventure.  That I'll become so embedded in the pattern of farewells and inevitable splitting-of-paths that I'll never recognize when it's worthy to think twice.  To say hello.  To accomodate.  

I'm jealous of those who recognize that moment-- the unique moment when you recognize another person as the person who you will sacrifice for.  And happily.  As much as you can 'regret' not living a life of adventure, traveling, vagabondry, and independence, I think you can equally regret not being able to recognize the times when it probably made a lot of sense to slow down and hold out your hand to the person you love. 

Of course this all comes about on Valentine's Day.  Makes sense, right?  But, Valentine's Day isn't just about having a romantic night with your lover.  It's also about appreciating and loving the friends around you--the kindred-heart-spirits in your life.  Which, by the way, is equally as gratifying and goddamn-lucky as being with your lover.  




I'm going to go to the local grocery store to buy myself 7 boxes of sweetheart candies and eat them until my clothes are chalky and my stomach hurts, and count it a victory.  

Love and Lint,
Ilse

1 comment:

  1. Sweetheart candies are gruesome...I'm wincing and screaming.

    Ok, not really. I'm watching "House of Cards" and writing emails. Congrats on the job!

    -frank

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