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.