Well I did it. Went on vacation and came back. There were some times where I didn’t think I would. Cause lets face if, if there is a direct opposite of Mongolia, it’s a place like Thailand.
In Peace Corps there are many rules for taking some time off and many people don’t leave the country in their two years of service. I wanted to take a vacation for many reasons. One – to see my family. As my mom was fond of recounting it was the first time that all of us have been together in two years… but who is counting:-P . Two – Escape the winter. This time last year I got a serious case of the winter doldrums, and didn’t want that to happen again. Three- Reset those batteries. Think about life after Peace Corps. Get a tan for the first time in (at this point) years. SO I went. Filled out all the paper work, signed all the papers, made all the phone calls.
And what did this vacation turn out to be? Many things. Some expected. Some not.
In a way it ended up being refreshing and healing. Got to nourish myself with good food, see beautiful places and got lots of rest. In another it was quite revealing. What I didn’t realize is that over the course of your service, maybe to survive, sometimes you bury bits of your self from your Pre PC Life. Things that you just don’t think about. Like hobbies that got you through the weekends back home, or little decadences that you used to indulge in, you just don’t even think about because, what’s the point? Its not as if you can do those things in a mountain town in Mongolia.
Sometimes unearthing those bits of yourself can be a bit alarming. Bits that you haven’t thought about or even done in years. Rediscovering components of a life that isn’t my current reality.
Like remembering that I freaking love scuba diving. My parents took me on a live-aboard as a family get away, and I eventually completed my 100th dive this trip. It wasn’t even something I realized I missed until now! Of course chatting with the people on the boat made me envious of this life surrounded by water. I left the boat wondering when I could come back.
Remembering the crunch of guava for breakfast.
Remembering that there are places where you can wade into the shallows of a beach and watch the bio-luminescence light up like a fire work show around your feet at one in the morning.
Remembering that movie popcorn and coke are amazing. Joined up with a trip to a first class theater ? Even more amazing. ( Seriously if you go to Bangkok, go see a movie in a first class theater. You won’t regret it).
Remembering the feeling of waking up from the heat of the sun on your skin after you take a siesta.
Remembering that there are places where you can watch waxy golden sunsets on beaches surrounded by jungle.
All of those things actually happened. Gloriously they happened. Many times I thought “This could very easily be my life” . How envious I am I of these people whose offices are swathes of ocean, sunny beaches and tropical climes. It’s the envious life. But its also the easy life.
Mongolia… heck Peace Corps , it’s the hard life, and I might have picked it because of this reason. Coming back was hard. And I knew it would be.
I did have a thought as I was walking around today though, back in my little mountain town. My boots crunching on freshly fallen snow , my face stinging with the cold. Its that I have a lot of time for the easy life. One day the ocean might be my office, or some other unknown vista. The little taste of those bits of life that made my Pre PC Life exciting can wait. Right now my office is a place with its own special type of beauty. Its just not the type of beauty people vacation in :-p….
There is the beauty of the people here. The exclamation of my teachers saying I have turned brown. Asking if I cried when I saw my mom. Some expressing surprise that I actually came back.
The reflection of sun off of the snow in winter. The vast expanse of remote steppe in the summer.
To wrap up, one movie I saw in Bangkok had the line in one of its songs “And you think of all of the things you’ve seen and you wish that you could live in between”… Well that will be a thought that I will keep with me over the next 6 months and beyond. Certainly.
Hope this finds you warm – V.