In saying goodbyes and departing on this journey, I am grateful for all those who have helped me get to this point. In life it is easy to forget that it is not just our individual drive and hard work that has helped us reach our accomplishments. Those around us, friends, family, teachers, or the stranger who crosses our path are an integral part of where and who we are now. They teach us lessons, and watch us grow. They go on adventures with us, and lend a helping hand when needed. They bless our lives giving what they can, helping us learn a thing or two, and doing some good.
I can think all the way back to preschool and how my teacher (and old next door neighbor) Ms. Jean has helped me get to where I am now. She taught me how to sew, how to use an iron, and how to put my shirt on the right way. Her crazy arts and crafts projects fueled my imagination and sparked a love for the visual arts. She was there when I was three and she is still here when I am twenty-three seeing me off on a new adventure knowing I can sew my own buttons and hopefully put my shirt on right.
I recall my childhood best friend Emily, and how we spent endless hours at the swimming pool, we went to overnight camp together, and unfortunately we didn’t last as friends beyond the sixth grade. When we went our separate ways I learned the hard lesson that people aren’t always nice and sometimes we choose different paths. But I will always have the memories of us eating smores around the camp fire, and playing practical jokes on her sisters. I will always remember and cherish the laughter and smiles we shared.
I have to think about where I would be in life if I didn’t have two older brothers. One thing is for sure I would have had a lot less bumps, bruises, and time outs. But then again I would have never learned how to hold my own, or throw a punch. I probably wouldn’t have inherited that dirt bike and have memories of speeding through mud puddles and going off jumps. Who would I have taken my first shot of alcohol with? And who would have had my back when I needed to keep a secret from mom and dad? My brothers have been there through the arguments and tears, through the scary and unknown, and through the laughter and good times.They have taught me countless lessons, beat me up a couple times, and occasionally been examples of ‘what not to do.’ I will always love them even if they ripped the heads of my dolls…
There are countless people who have come in and out of my life over the years, whether through school, work, volunteering, traveling, or just getting a coffee, that have left a mark on me. There are Jessie and Garrett my partners in crime in college. Erica or Sarah some of the best coworkers I could have ever asked for. Marcia and all those at HIM that have been a family and taught me how to give in whatever way I can. Ali, Ana, and Ash all companions in trips around the world. And the guy at Starbucks who bought me a coffee because I looked like I needed it!! One more week and I am off to Guyana, so I say until next time friends and family, our paths will cross again. Thank you for blessing my life and helping me to get to where I am today.
In less than a month I will be calling Guyana home. The odds and ends that I need to accomplish before that happens seem to be never ending. The most daunting task – PACKING. Sitting in the middle of my bedroom floor with stacks of clothes, books, and ‘stuff’ around me I contemplate what items are really necessary. Part of being in the Peace Corps is living the life of those you are serving. I am not planning on leaving all the luxuries of home behind; in order to help others I have to be able and helped. But at the same time I really have to consider what can I live without.
I have a list, I have suggestions from past volunteers, I have other people’s lists. Now it is time to decide what the necessities of MY life are. What do I need in order to find success on this new journey in this new home. I will bring clothes and shoes. I will pack a can opener and a good knife. I will cherish pictures of family and friends from home. A few books will find their way into my bag to help pass the time. But when all is said and done I will have two bags, and leave behind a room of the ‘un-necessities’ to collect dust.
The unexpected leaves me at a loss for how to prepare. The ‘I don’t knows’ out number the ‘I knows.’ I can state simple facts like, “Guyana is hot and humid.” But really what good does that do me other than I can leave the winter parka at home. I don’t exactly know where I will be working, I don’t know what my house will look like, I don’t know the town I will be living in, I don’t know… I do know that I will be happy with any roof over my head, I do know to pack comfortable shoes, and I do know that with patients and flexibility the unknowns will figure themselves out.
If you are curious click to view: ROUGH PACKING LIST