Sunday, January 25, 2009

Changing Places

17 January 2009

Well, it appears I’ve been quite lacking in my web logging lately. I mean, really lacking. What happened? I can’t even give a straight answer, but what I can give is a sincere apology to all my dedicated readers (Yes, all four of you). Sorry ‘bout that.

This entry concerns a pretty prevalent theme in my life, and, to be honest, a common theme among many Americans. It’s about moving from one place to another. I know many of you have been there and done that. I, for one, began moving from when I was two, going from Tennessee, where I was born, to Texas, with my family. Since then, we haven’t spent more than five years anywhere. Although moving isn’t always fun (You gotta pack everything up, say your goodbyes, then unload everything again.), I now feel (And I think other members of my family can agree.) that everywhere we’ve lived brings back such specific, vivid memories that we all share.

And who recognizes the aspects of going to a new place better than a Peace Corps volunteer? That’s not to say that we’re experts, but we’re all in the same boat in that we’ve all packed our bags and moved far away from home. And the moving doesn’t stop in just one place, either. Nope, sure doesn’t. You see, the last, longer entry I wrote was from Ceyranbatan, but I don’t live there anymore.

Ceyranbatan was where I was living for training, and now that training’s over (It’s actually been over for a bout five weeks.), I’ve packed up and moved to Qumlaq village, Oğuz. I wrote about this place before, and it’s great to finally be living here. Training can be a pretty taxing time. You got a lot on your plate, and it’s like a big breath of fresh, mountain air (literally) to be settled and working at my site of service.

But it’s not like I left Ceyranbatan and then put it out of mind. Luckily, my good neighbor from Ceyranbatan, Charlie Djordjevic, lives in the same rayon as I. Our memories of training will always be with us, like the time Charlie was locked out of his house by a certain unnamed grandmother and came to my host family’s place for kabobs, or when my “host uncle” randomly took me and Charlie for a drive to a wedding palace in Sumgait, and a huge feast magically showed up while we were sitting in some gentleman’s (who I guess lived at the wedding palace?) apartment area, or when we showed the kids at the local school how to play touch football. We left Ceyranbatan, optimistic about where we were going, with great memories, and, hey, that’s how it outta be. If I’ve learned anything in Peace Corps (and in my life in general), it’s that packing up and heading to a new place shouldn’t be something you dread, even though it can be a pain. It wasn’t fun loading all my stuff into a marshrutka (Remember what those are?), talking the driver into not charging us extra, and hauling it to Oğuz, but now I’m here, and it’s great. And even if you’re not too fond of where you’re going, it makes where you came from mean that much more. As much as my family liked living in Maryland, it still meant a lot to us to move back to Texas, where we’d lived most of my life. Things like this are important to remember when you’ve made a two-year commitment to live in a foreign place. There are good days and not as good days, but we can all count on the fact that we will go back eventually. Maybe home will mean more to us when it’s all over. And let’s be honest; that wouldn’t be a bad thing.

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