Two Years Deep

I feel relaxed, calm, and cool. There is an imminent feeling of accomplishment. I have many reasons to be happy.

The completion of my service is now visible on the horizon. It pops up in conversation regularly, both with people back home and Armenians here. I’m already getting asked if I’ll come back again and if I want to go. The answers are yes and yes. The Armenians understand when I tell them I want to go home. Then they usually say something nice about me leaving, like “Oh, it’s so bad that you’re leaving in 2 months.”

The journey through the Peace Corps experience has always been one marked with milestones in my mind. From the application, to the medical checks, to the clearances, to the invitation, to staging, to training, to site, to the first year, and now, finally, the second year. At each gate I like to pause, take a look back to see where I’ve come, and then peer forward to see where I’m going.

So it’s been two years now that I’ve been living in Armenia. That’s pretty hard for me to believe. I always feel torn between the feeling that time has passed slowly and that it has passed quickly. Maybe it’s the theory of relativity at play. It really does depend on what is going on and how you think of the time.

If I think about leaving America two years ago, the tears with my parents at the airport, the feeling of uncertainty swirling around me just like it did on my first day of kindergarten, the time seems to have passed slowly. That seems like forever ago!

If I think about what I did last summer, the Border2Border stuff, the 4th of July celebrations, and lots of PST training, the time seems to have flown by. I feel like I just did that stuff!

They, the infamous they, say that the second year of service goes by a lot quicker than the first. I wish I could say they are not right this time, but I have to hand it to they, they usually know what they’re talking about. Perhaps because the first year is filled with a lot of firsts, a lot of trauma, a lot of adjustment, it lends speed to the second year, which is filled with a lot more normalcy.

Everything seems a bit sweeter now. Probably because I know soon the fresh Vardenis air will no longer flow in my window. I won’t be greeted by the shepherds and their cows on my morning runs. The peacefulness and lull of an Armenian afternoon will be a distant memory. There is a lot to be missed for sure. It follows that there is a lot to soak in right now. You try to fill your memory banks for the rest of your life, even though you know time is your greatest enemy.

When I lean out the balcony window and think of all these things, enjoying the wonderful spring weather, my thoughts drift back to one thing: “Two years…two years…”

Two years ago we came. We didn’t speak a word of Armenian. Nothing was familiar. We were sick, both physically and emotionally. It was a big struggle. And now I can remember those feelings from the enjoyment of my current equilibrious state.

May 2010: My look of consternation says it all

Nothing drives home the sense that my time is now short more than the arrival of the new group. There is a big group of strangers here to replace me. It is time for them to have their own unique journey. I can imagine what they are going through now, because I too have been there.

Many times the finish line seemed impossible, but now it’s been two years.

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