Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Earth Below Us, Drifting, Falling

And the countdown starts.

At the top of this page you should see a cute little ticker marking off the days until I depart for Peace Corps Staging in Miami. I knew it was three months or so, but seeing it in print was a little scary. I've lived in Tallahassee now for a while, and my life here has been pretty slow-paced. And for the last five years I've dreamed of the day when I'd be outta here.

But now, seeing it counting down like that... I'm overwhelmed with several emotions: excitement, fear, sadness, happiness. This is that mixture of terror and anticipation I remember so, so distantly from before, the same feeling every soon-to-be-volunteer starts feeling as the deadline grows closer. At some point it begins to gradually shift from some abstract future event into a looming, real future event, and that's when the emotions begin to cycle like a mad coaster. I had a dream a few nights ago that I was leaving for Peace Corps and was meeting all the new volunteers. But the problem was, I hadn't had a chance to finish packing entirely, so I showed up to the airport with a huge empty duffel bag and armloads of plastic grocery sacks full of all my possessions. But of course by the time I arrived to check in I had like 30 minutes to pack my duffel bag before the flight was to begin loading. I dashed into the huge waiting area only to see that there was nowhere to sit anywhere close -- it took me about five minutes to cross the massive area and find a spot. It was, coincidentally enough, next to some other volunteers waiting to go, and the distracted me endlessly as I tried to frantically jam everything in the bag. And, wouldn't you know it, the stuff I brought wouldn't all fit in the duffel bag. I dumped everything and tried again, realizing with horror that I had about six minutes before boarding. I tried organizing everything but still it didn't all fit so I realized I had to leave some stuff behind... but what? And that's when they announced the airplane was done boarding, and I looked u p and realized the PCTs around me were gone -- already boarded!

I woke up in a state of panic, which was followed by a flush of relief when I realized it had been a dream. If that's the kind of thing I'm getting now, what will it be like a week before Staging? I dread that.

Oh, and I get a little anxious when I think about the BIG DAY, the ultimate day in the Peace Corps when Training comes to an end and they drive everyone out to their sites and drop you off and then you are all alone. I dread that moment most of all, the moment when all the fun and games and companionship and relative safety of Training is irrevocably over and you now have to fend for yourself in this utterly new environment. I never got to that point, if you recall, so I don't have memories to reflect on. All I have are a few eerie stories I've heard from RPCVs about the terror of that day. It all gets better from there, I understand, but that must be the hardest day of all. Made even harder for those people with really, really remote sites, I can imagine. PCVs who live near one another, in the same town even, probably have a less stressful transition (I say less stressful, though I'm sure it is still plenty terrifying for them, too). I know I can get through it, but until then I'll try not to worry about it too much. It's part and parcel with this whole experience... in fact, the main part of the volunteer process can't begin until that day happens.

Juse jitters. I'll be fine.



Me said...

I am glad to see that I'm not the only person thinking about these things. You have articulated very well what has been running through my mind the past week.

~.i.am.ashleigh.~ said...

Start preparing now! You will be fine. The emotions may run hi, but you are SO prepared for this, otehrwise. :-D

nusilusi said...

Two months is plenty of time to visit friends, save money and eat yummy food. I've been looking at this site for awhile and started my own site. I'm looking for a good web place to post my photos about the Peace Corps. I was a PCV in Panama. Four years later I still think about it all the time.

I've always loved traveling and other cultures, and coming across diffrent websites about PCV's is a fun way to learn about countries and provides a lot more info than other sources.

Good luck in Guyana. I read about the new CD on the Peace Corps website in the press release section.


Brian Reeves said...

Thanks for the kind words, everyone. I'm definitely trying to save money, and avoid freaking out too much. My fear comes more from a healthy respect for what I'm about to go through, based on at least a few weeks of experience. But I'm jazzed, too, and look forward to this with eagerness.

Nusilusi, there are lots of free sites to post pictures to (yahoo and flikr.com come to mind) but I've never found one I really recommend over all the others. The problem with these sites is that they autoshrink your pictures, and don't allow others to drag and save them onto their own computer. I used flikr.com for a couple pictures you can find in the archives (Peace Corps HQ and Margaritaville) but I'm not entirely satisfied by its limitations. Hunt around and see what you find. If you see a good one, make sure to tell me!

Erin said...

Hi! So, your going to be at the Miami staging May 31st for Guyana?