In attempt to keep up with 28 people littered throughout the world, my stagmates and I’ve created an email list and we occasionally send each other updates on life beyond Niger.
Sometimes these emails burn. They are a reminder that we are no longer together and that we all have moved on, not by choice but by force.
There is also some bitterness that arises when I read these updates. Not with my stagmates, but with myself. Some of them are waiting to leave on their new assignments and others are already at their new posts and discovering Peace Corps in another country. A few have chosen to be done with Peace Corps but are pursing grand adventures on a different path.
Me, I’m stagnant. I’m still in transition without much guess of what lies on the other side. Because of that question mark, I feel like I am constantly looking back and trying to hold on to what I had. Memories on the hot desert hit me and I forget where I am. Was that really my life? What happened? How did I land here? Why?
I thought I was alone. But I have never been alone since the day I landed in Philadelphia. Oceans apart, my stagmates and I still yearn for that place that brought us together, that place that sprouted our family. We all hurt. We all have a hard time accepting this reality, but despite what has happened to us, we haven’t lost the power that binds us. From India to Rwanda to Costa Rico, words on a screen become hugs. The support and love is still there, maybe even more so now.
We realize that we must go on. As one said “All I know is I miss you guys and although I would literally give all this poshness up to be back there like we were … I know I have to be here and now, and give this moment all I can.”
I miss them and their and Niger’s presence in my life is eternal. But I owe the present all of me. I am meant to be here and I can’t discredit that.
I didn’t get what I expected out of my Peace Corps experience, but I got more than I deserved — the friendship of some pretty incredible individuals. For that, it was all worth it.