Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Tomorrow is the day! I depart for staging around 11 a.m. and arrive in Philly around 1:00. These last few days have felt really bizarre. Honestly, I've tried hard not to think about the magnitude of what I'm about to do. Sometimes I look at my packed bags or my comfortable bed or my loving partner or my adorable cats and think, "Am I really doing this? What was I thinking?" But, I have managed to limit my thoughts to just that. Any further and I might just stay in bed all day tomorrow and be content to keep my life comfortable and familiar.

Colin and I have been talking about the differences between being the Leaver and being the One Left Behind. Now that we're experiencing the opposite of our normal, it's so much easier to relate. I think I know what he's going through because I have watched him leave so many times. I think he knows what I'm going through because he has done this before. We both agree that it's probably easiest for the Leaver in a lot of ways. Everything will be new and exciting and overwhelming for me. Though I will have to strike some balance between sadness over leaving him and excitement about this adventure, he is stuck in our home with everything to remind him that I'm gone.

Right now is a good time for me to reflect on why I'm joining the Peace Corps and moving around the world for over 2 years, thousands of miles from the people I love. Since we moved back to Rochester almost 2 years ago after Colin finished his active duty Army status, I have felt unsatisfied with my circumstances. The job hunt lasted over a year and yielded no results. I felt stuck and like I was waiting for my life to start again. I'd been thinking about the Peace Corps and thinking that it would be an awesome adventure to take with Colin, but due to his job, he could not qualify for Peace Corps service. I finally decided that this is something I have to do, even if on my own. I don't want to feel like I'm not contributing to making the world better. As cheesy as it is, I want to do something, ANYTHING, good for humanity. These next two years will define the rest of my life.

I am a little bit older than a bunch of the volunteers in our Bots 10 group, and a little bit younger. Many in our group have just graduated from college, and then at the other end of the spectrum are people who have retired or are around my parents' age. I'm hoping that this will allow me to relate to everyone more easily. I'm excited to meet this group! We've been talking on Facebook and the blogs for months and tomorrow I'll finally be able to see their faces in person. I'm a little shy when it comes to meeting new people, but I'm hoping all of the awkwardness will be softened by the nervousness and slight intimacy we've achieved with our angsty/confused/panicky posts on Facebook. I think sharing our vulnerability in this way warms us up for the face-to-face "getting to know you" aspect of Staging and orientation. 

I feel like I'm as ready as I'll ever be for Peace Corps. Colin and I went to the movies last night and saw The Last Lions. It was set in Botswana, so you know we had to do it. It was a nature documentary about lions (obv.) and it made me more excited and anxious (if that's even possible). My bags are packed and I'm almost 2 lbs overweight. I haven't decided whether I'm going to bother weeding through my luggage again or whether I quit and just keep my fingers crossed that no one cares about an extra two pounds. At some point, I need to post my final packing list- you'd be amazed what we've managed to fit into my bags. I say "we" as if I actually did anything- Colin is a professional packing genius and I tasked him with making it fit.

These last couple of weeks are sort of a fog already, and I know that a week from now, this day will feel like it happened years ago. I have said so many goodbyes. I really hate saying goodbye. I know it's sort of stupid to say that, because who likes it? I just don't think I'm very good at it. Typically, I don't cry and I think that can be disappointing to the other person if they are crying. When Colin deployed, I always waited until the last second to show any emotion and would usually wait until he was out of sight before tearing up. I'm wondering what will happen tonight. We're having my parents and Colin's parents over, along with our close friends, Marie, Lauren, Craig, and L&C's daughter, Evelyn. It will be the last time I see them before leaving tomorrow. Colin will take me to the airport, and that's probably when I'll be visibly upset. Something to look forward to!

I'm also looking forward to dinner in Philadelphia tomorrow night. Since I'm the only one (that I know of) in our group who has lived in Philly, I put myself in charge of making dinner reservations for all of us. None of the restaurants we chose would give us reservations for more than 10 or 11 without arranging it with the special events coordinator, so I just made reservations at 3 different restaurants. This way we will be more manageable and everyone has some level of choice in where they eat. I still haven't decided where I want to eat. I'm torn between Pod and El Vez, two of my favorite Philly spots.

This post has rambled on long enough! It may be my last one until June. Still haven't decided if I'm going to keep my computer with me during homestay. I may post in Philly or once I arrive in Gaborone, but this may be it for me. So, until June?! xoxo

Friday, March 25, 2011

Party time, Goodbyes, and an awesome surprise

Craziness. This week has been craziness. We managed to finish all of the home projects and get cleaned up and make a ton of food by Saturday. My party was a huge success. My coffee table survived some intense dancing by about half a dozen people. We had over 50 people crammed in our little house and 15 people camping out overnight in various rooms and on the floor. I got to see a lot of people that I haven't seen in a long time, and say a lot of goodbyes. Luckily, the drinks were flowing and I was happy instead of weepy. My aunt and uncle flew in from Florida for the party and Colin's aunt and uncle and cousin/fiance came from Syracuse, along with his grandma from Binghamton. Caitlin and Mike came in from NY, and so did Jason. All of my college girlfriends made it, too, the first time we have all been together since Kelly's wedding in 2008. It was awesome. Lauren and Craig brought an amazing breakfast spread the next day, including my favorite, Wegman's breakfast pizza, and they also picked up my mother-in-law's famous cinnamon twists. Can you tell that this party was mostly about food? There was an unbelievable amount left over. I'm still eating carrot cake for breakfast.  
 Me with cheese balls.  Because I love cheese balls. 
 Some of my family-of-choice.  Neighbors and friends for 20+ years!
 Most delicious carrot cake on earth, Cheesy Eddies.  It reads, "I will miss you all, but only slightly more than this carrot cake!"  True statement.
 Me and my girlfriends from high school, April, Lauren, Sally, and Marie
Colin and I
 Sally, Craig, Lauren, Jason, and Marie
 Lil and Jessica, friends from college who drove 10 hours or something to get here
 Me and my BFF for the night, champagne
 My mom and me
 My lovely loves from college, Lil, Annette, Jessica, Kris, Sarah, Yel, and Kelly
 Lauren and I Rock Banding together
 Kristin and Kelly impersonating pirates (or at least that's what they tell me now)
 Kristin and I getting down with our bad selves
 Dancing on the coffee table
 BREAKFAST! The next day
 Everyone looks so chipper
 Caitlin, the best sister-in-law in the world, with Ev, my favorite 3 year old.
 Colin and my dad
 Tom and Michelle
 My aunt and uncle and I
Col and I doing a self-pic

So lately, Colin has been asking me to wake him up (what am I, his mother?) early so that he can get to work early and come home early to hang out with me. This works out about .001% of the time. Typically, I'll set my alarm for some ungodly hour, I'll wake him up, and then he asks me to hit snooze about a dozen times before I give up and let him sleep until late. This results in him coming home from work late. He asked me to do it again this morning, and shockingly, the man got himself out of bed like a grown up, so I got up with him and made coffee like a good wife. My sister, in Korea, is usually terrified of calling me in the morning (her night time), but sometimes braves Angry Sleep Tracy in order to talk to me before she goes to bed. This morning was one of those times, but I happened to be awake.  She Skyped my phone and then we got disconnected so I Skyped her by computer. She sounded weird and like she was outside because it was windy, but when I asked her what she was doing, she said, "I just got up." And I was like, "?",  and she said, "I mean I'm getting ready for bed."  I'm stupid in the morning so I just thought she had a long day or something and when she was little she used to mix up salt and sugar and yesterday and tomorrow so I assumed all was normal. Then, there was a knock on the door and I told Colin to get it for me because I wasn't dressed. I kept talking to Kate on Skype and then I heard an echo- my voice from the front door. Kate had flown in from Korea to surprise me and everyone had managed to keep it a secret! I was shocked. I absolutely had NO idea.  So cool. She has a TDY assignment in Dayton, OH for the next two weeks but convinced them to give her leave early so that she could see me this weekend and then drive to Dayton on Sunday. Miraculously, it worked out. I tend to think that this is because she is in the Air Force and they are slightly better organized than the Army. Anyway, she's giving a brief to her old AF ROTC detachment at RIT right now and I'm just waiting for her to be done so that we can have more fun. 

This week has been a series of goodbyes. It's really strange and I just haven't allowed myself to think about it too much because I know that if I do, I'll have a really difficult time walking myself onto that plane on Thursday. I'm mostly packed and hoping that I'm not forgetting anything super important like underpants (btw, is anyone else partial to the word underpants vs. underwear? Underpants just makes me laugh). 

There's been a lot of activity on the Bots 10 FB page. I think most of us are feeling a little antsy/anxious/excited/nervous/etc. It's nice to know that I'm not alone, but sometimes it stresses me out to think about other people being nervous, too, especially when they ask packing questions that I haven't even considered and then I think I'm screwing things up majorly. Sometimes I feel very prepared and sometimes I feel totally unprepared. 

That's all for now! I'm off to say another goodbye. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Angsty Party Prep

I am the worst, I know.  I haven't blogged in a long time, but really, what was I going to say?  It would probably go something like this: "Ah! I don't know how to pack.  Ah! I'm angsty and anxious.  Ah! We've been tearing our house apart for weeks painting, re-wiring, tiling, drywalling, plumbing, etc. trying to get our house ready for a raucous party.  Ah! I hate painting.  Ah!"  Didn't want to bore you all (you know, the hoards that are reading this).

Anyway, the house work is done (FINALLY) and just in time for me to enjoy it for less than 2 weeks before I peace out of here.  My going away party is tomorrow, and I'm super psyched.  I have people coming from far away to send me off and it's very exciting.  Lots of friends and family! I am lucky to have these people in my life.  I am planning to take lots of pictures and post the appropriate ones here and on Facebook. 

Other than that, I've whittled my stuff down to a manageable amount (I think) that fits (mostly) into my luggage.  My ticket to Philly is purchased and I fly in on Thursday, March 31st for staging, departing for Johannesburg (after a bus trip to JFK at 2 a.m.) on Saturday morning (a 15 hour flight), followed by a quick flight to Gaborone.  Woot!

That's it! Back to cleaning, cooking, and generally preparing for the debauchery tomorrow night.  Yee-haw!