Leaving, part 2

I woke up today feeling terrible. I can’t focus on Pillars of the Earth while I drink my coffee. I feel like I have the anxiety to run from the friend’s house where I stayed last night back to the workstation. I keep making lists of things that I need to do. Over and over again, the same list. And keep asking myself the same questions to which I still haven’t come up with the answers: When should I turn in my helmet? What should I eat for my last meal? How am I ever going to carry around this 37-pound backpack for the next three months?

I thought I was over the fact that I’m leaving Benin tomorrow. My subconscious is telling me different. 

All that you can’t leave behind

One of my friends here, aloveaffairwiththeworld, came here with the goal of writing a book about her experience in the Peace Corps. She’s read a couple, and honestly, she thought many of them were, well, bad. The problem, she says, is that the story is too focused on the volunteer him or herself, not the story of the people or the country that the volunteer experiences.

One of our friends told her something at the beginning of our training that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. He told her that if she was able to tell the story of how this experience changed her, her transformation into an African, that would be a story worth telling.

So, almost a year in, I’ve been thinking about my own transformation into an African. As far as I can tell it is this so far: I eat later. I rarely wear pants in public. I am comfortable eating certain meals with my hands. I sometimes find it easier to just ask someone else (read a student) to so something for me than doing it myself. I have found my capacity to sit in silence and my capacity to sit and do nothing have both greatly increased. I showed up over an hour late to a party today.

Right now, it all seems pretty superficial. What I’m going to take with me after this experience, my transformation into an African, I’m pretty sure I have yet to see. What I bring back with me has yet to be decided.