Friday, December 21, 2012

One day, this will end

Back when I was running a lot of races, I usually approached the long ones by breaking them into thirds. The first third was the warm-up, during the second I thought, “OK, let’s really get this thing going now,” and the last third was when I had to go to my bag of tricks and reach in to see what I was really made of. 

Upon discussing the length of Peace Corps service with people before I left, I shared this approach to the time I’d be away to give people perspective that 27 months really wasn’t very long at all. 
Speaking of babies - here is my host's sister new baby, Kania! 

The thirds. Or three nine-month stints of service. 

Three back-to-back Peace Corps babies, if you will.

And, here I am – suddenly finding myself in the second to last trimester of my third PC baby. 

I try to avoid the countdown trap as it implies I can’t wait to leave, and that is not at all the case. But having the end in sight certainly does prompt me to savor my remaining time more.

Carpe Diem
One of the first journal entries I had my eleventh grade write last year was on the theme of “Carpe Diem”, as it was loosely related to the theme of a narrative we read in class. I introduced the phrase thinking it’d be news to them, but I saw the ears of all eleventh grade boys jerk to attention from their plastered positions on their desks. Turns out, “Seize the Day” is the title of an Avenged Sevenfold song.*

After trying to convince 16-year-olds that it was Horace and not some American metal band who coined the phrase, I wrote an example of a journal entry on what I would do if I knew there was no tomorrow and today was our last day. 
“If there was no tomorrow, I would call all my family and friends to remind them I love them and that I am thankful for them. I would give all of my money to help other people enjoy their last day. I would eat a lot of candy and cake, and I would ride a motorcycle.** What would you do?” 
I braced myself for journal entries revealing the hidden character and deepest dreams of a cell phone, FB, and punk hair-do generation of East Javanese teens. Across two classes, I got about seventy-five of the following entries:
  • I will ask forgiveness to my parents and friends
  • I will pray in mosque 
  • I will ask forgiveness to God

What a bust.***

The End
Anyway, with my last third in full swing and the end of the world slated for today, I thought I’d take the opportunity to reflect a bit on the end of things. In addition, I will be making an “End of the World” banner and having a sleepover at a friend’s desa. Nothing says end of the world like Crayola markers and jammies.

In reflecting on the short six months I have left here, I can’t help but selfishly prioritize my time to check things off my own personal Peace Corps Bucket List (PCBL). Sure, I want to get some serious volunteer and leadership-type projects done, but things like scheduling an opportunity to finally see my counterpart without her jilbab (PCBL  #1) or getting my hands on an Indomaret**** worker T-shirt (PCBL #5) are definitely occupying more of my thoughts now than they probably should.  

I have also started taking mental snapshots of memories I want to thumb through when I'm back home just thinking things over while eating a meatball parm sandwich…
  • Hanging on the porch with Ila and Ayuk after school, rapping about our day or making some crafts and laughing over the latest dumb thing I did
  • Getting trapped in the mushola with a few of my students during a heavy rainstorm, sitting around playing the guitar and singing songs together
  • Asking a class I visited if they had any questions for me. After silence for a minute, one 8th grader raised her hand, looked me dead in the eye and said, "You are very beautiful." Obviously, she doesn't get out much.
  • Skyping with my American family on Thanksgiving at school as Mbak Nur and Mbak Ira come on-screen behind me trying on their new I Love NY T-shirts
  • Waiting to share the special moment of viewing the last Twilight installment in stadium seating with PC pals who appreciate how great bad things can be
I left Taylor and Bri's red eyes b/c it makes 
them look more like vampires.
  • While in another city, escaping a mob of junior high kids who took an excessive amount of photos and wanted me to sign their school ties. And then that feeling of coming home to my friends in my desa who know me and no longer treat me like a piece of white bule meat that’s up for grabs. 
  • Eating lunch beside a dirty canal after a Jalan Santai and singing One Direction songs with some random elementary kids across the way
My students
  • Listening to the 36th English speech of the day, where a contestant quoted a local commercial to support her argument that madrasahs provide the best education. “Madrasahs are 'my sun, my moon, my guiding star'”, she said. 
I enjoyed two things about this: 1) that this 9th grader in a jilbab had no idea she was indirectly quoting a Barry White song and 2) the fact that amazing things like this happen so often here.
I thought of Barry and how he might enjoy this also, and I got unreasonably verklempt.
    Sometimes, I feel like I need all the remaining days of this last third just to emotionally prep myself for those final moments of saying good-bye to this life I've made here and the people I love. I've alluded to this before, but leaving here will most certainly be one hot mess - the likes of which I’ve never seen, really. 

    It will be a true test of what I’m really made of.

    Good news is I’ll have these guys below to come home to, which will certainly cushion the blow.

    Carpe Diem, and Merry Christmas!



    *Avenged Sevenfold is one of the few American bands that has gained a devoted following here in my village. Prior to setting foot on Indonesian soil, I had never heard of them. I also much prefer David Moscow's rendition of a "Seize the Day" tune:  
    Why Christian Bale conveniently omits this from his acting credits, I'll never know. On the other hand, I'd guess Max Casella enjoys touting this fact.

    ** The strict Peace Corps rule of volunteers not being allowed to ride motorcycles being moot at the end of the world. Right, Ken? Right?!

    ***Except for this one gem: “If there is no tomorrow I want to round the world. I want to go to the space to look the moon and earth from space and I want to hold star in my hand”. Way to be, Panggih!

    **** Indomaret is the local convenient store here, similar to a 7-Eleven but without the slushies. For Wappingers Falls folk, think your neighborhood E-Z. I certainly do. 

    NOTE: I hope one day I can avoid these notes referencing tragic world events as related to my crummy blog, but this entry was started and planned long before last week. I, in no way, wanted to be insensitive to all that has happened recently in Newtown. 

    There is nothing I can add here except that even living as far away as one can possibly be, it is still overwhelmingly upsetting and spirit-crushing. Saya ikut berduka.

    No comments:

    Post a Comment