Left behind

I’ve lived my whole life believing that it was better to be the person who was leaving than the person who was being left behind. I believed that if you were the one who was leaving, you were the one in control of the situation. You were the one who was going after bigger and better things. You were the one who was moving on.

But now, I’ve somehow ended up in the situation where I’m the one that’s still here. I’m watching as my friends one by one leave this country and travel back to the United States. I see their pictures of US food on Facebook. I see the status updates from their parents who are overwhelmingly thankful for them to be back. I see pictures of people who lived in Benin back in the US together. And I’m jealous.

I’m still here. And I’ll still be here for another week before my end-of-service trip starts. And I’m thankful for the chance for that trip. And I’m excited for this trip to begin. But until then, this end-of-service-but-not-yet-out-of-the-country limbo in which I’ve found myself is, frankly, starting to become unbearable.

I officially ended my Peace Corps service today (much like when I graduated college, the piece of paper that completed my service seemed so entirely anticlimactic) but the truth is, my Peace Corps service ended two weeks ago when I started saying goodbye to the people that defined my time here. To end my service without the people that got me through the past two years seems unfair. To end my service with a week in our office in air conditioning, getting up at 11 a.m. to drink coffee, fill out forms and watch Entourage is so unlike what the past two years of my life have been like, it’s almost a joke.

I can’t tell you, though, how to make it better. I don’t know that there is a way to end this part of my life that could effectively summarize what the past two years have meant. How many times can you say that you just ended the two most formative years of your life before it becomes redundant?

And so, I’m here. I’m freezing in air conditioning, updating my resume, watching YouTube. I cleaned out my house and filled out all the paperwork. I’m waiting to leave this country behind.