I’m not sure if you’re all aware of this or not, but I only have about 9 months left in Peru. Of my 2 years and some change of service, I’m down to ¾ of a year. This became much more real for me as we said goodbye to the 16ers closing their service and, aside from 3rd year volunteers, there was no one left that had been here longer than us. By the end of November, Peru 17 will be the “senior” group in Peru. Peru 20 is already well into training and will be doing site visits in a couple weeks. This does weird things to my emotions.
The same weekend of the 16ers despedida (going away party), I had a skype date with my boyfriend and some of his friends (the majority of which he has met while I’ve been gone). He was having a small get together at our place (well, now his place) and wanted me to meet the people he spends time with. I was on skype and Justin set his laptop down on the kitchen table so I could see everyone. The connection was awful and they could hardly hear anything I said, but I still got to meet everyone. Of the four people at his place, I knew one. So I “sat” at my kitchen table, looking into the place I shared with my boyfriend that still has my art hanging on the wall and my dishes on the shelves, and I was essentially the stranger at the table. You see, apparently life goes on even in your absence. And bizarrely enough, I came to this realization and broke down into weeping and sobbing.
I wasn’t emotional because my boyfriend has friends I don’t know. I became emotional because of so many things, I don’t even know where to start. Like how my life these past 16 ½ months has been a never-ending rollercoaster of change. How it took so long to find my place here, and soon everything from the friends I made to the life I’ve constructed will be gone, never to return to this state. And how I will return to a home I was so sad to leave, only to find it is both exactly how I left it and completely different, and I will be the one trying to fit back in.
A lot of things have happened back home since I’ve been here. Engagements, weddings, births, divorces and funerals. Fires have completely wiped out entire forests I once hiked through and worked in. People have moved towns, people have changed. You know, life has happened. It’s been happening here, too. When you’re an outsider looking in, it feels like so much has happened so fast.
It's strange because this feeling is not connected to homesickness. While a small part of me wishes I could participate in holiday activities back home, I know I’ll be there next year. Meanwhile my opportunities to be involved with things here grow less with each day. I know, 9 months seems like a long time, but is it?