2013 seems so far away.
It feels like another generation, another time period. But that is the year that, God willing, I will be on the other side of two years in Africa. It’s so far in the future it’s silly to think about it now, but I do.
When I left last year for Niger, I knew two years would fly by and the gap between 2010 and 2012 would feel more like six months than 27. I often told people that I would be home before we had a new president (or a new term for the same one), meaning I’d be back in September 2012, two months before the next presidential election. Putting it in that sense made it seem relasitic.
With, Lesotho, it’s different. Baring any terrorism activity that could lead to an evacuation, my end of service date is set for December 2013. I’ll be two months into 29 and reentering the real world as if I just graduated college.
At 29, I am supposed to have a thriving career, husband and a kid or two. I should have a car, an apartment or mortgage apartment. I won’t. I will still have a heaping of student loan debt and will once again have to relearn how to maneuver around an American life that shouldn’t feel so awkward but does.
I haven’t left yet but these things do scare me. And, as with Niger, I am afraid I’ll be the oldest volunteer in Lesotho to 30-some 22-year-old recent college graduates and no one wants to be the oldest.
Sometimes I get caught up in thinking about where my life could be. There would be a comfy, but slightly messy, apartment with pictures of friends and family and a comfy couch that I use for Saturday napping. I would have an 8-5 job that doesn’t bring me a lot of inspiration, but pays the bill and gives me time for the gym and cocktails with friends. Maybe I would have a hobby or a boyfriend.
That seems pleasant, but it’s not my life.
I live with my parents, continually struggling with the person I am and the person I used to be. I work for a newspaper I swore I would never work for. I have approximately three friends in town and feel so distant from my friends across the state and world. I don’t have a car and the pieces of this place that I love the most are under water.
This is my life, and when you look at it, it’s awesome. Just since January, I’ve been to three countries and on three road trips to different parts of this nation. I am leaving soon for another adventure that will continue to shape not only my outlook but my definition. In the meantime, I got to learn more about my family and deepen my friendships while producing some of my best reporting, ever.
My path isn’t average, and that is a change for me. I can’t predict what the next two years will be like as I couldn’t predict that I would be back in Pierre one year after leaving for Niger. But, I know that this is my path and I will follow it, no matter how scary it feels.