When my plane landed in the night on the runway months ago I was very nervous that I was going to have to talk myself into moving. That I would have to coach myself out of the sad tears that still easily fall when I think of all the family time I got to have while home. When people ask me what the best part of America was, my response is not the food, or the roads, or the service at restaurants that is so many people's go to response. Mine, without even thinking about it, was, and still is, "seeing my brother everyday."
But I didn't. Didn't have to coach myself out of the tears that is. I just simply grabbed my carry on bag and a beautiful feeling of relief washed over me as they opened the cabin doors and the Zambian air filled my lungs for the first time in six weeks. I was happy to be home. Which was strange, because I was pretty sure that I had just left home. Just left my brother's warm embrace, the sound of my dad's laughter and the smell of my mom's hug.
But I thought of none of those things as I gathered my luggage. I was only happy to be home. And I have been happy to be home ever since.
My third year is, so far, the best year of my service. I am the happiest and the most at peace with myself I have ever been in my whole life. I don't really think that this feeling has anything to do with one thing, more a sign of aging gracefully.
I thought that leaving Kansas would be much harder, because I was so stressed about going in the first place. I gave myself horrible anxiety over the whole thing. Not eating and loosing weight before going there, convincing myself no one would be happy to see me and friends wouldn't even remember who I was.
Instead, friends drove hours to hug me, share their stories and listen to mine. One friend and I talked everyday, just like we used to two years ago. My heart sang during every call. Instead people went out of their way to greet me in WalMart and tell me how happy they were to see me. Instead, strangers didn't hesitate to tell me how proud they were of me for what I was doing and how brave of a young woman they found me to be.
I was so worried, and for nothing. Love is apparently everywhere, even when you aren't looking for it.
My boyfriend and I also broke up while I was home. I was worried that being back in Zambia would be hard and awful since I had come to depend on him as an ally in this PC game.
I was again worried that I since all of my close PC friends had not extended, and I was without that boy that I would be lonely often. Instead, because of my new job, I get to have great conversations with new PCVs everyday. I spend more time laughing and smiling than I ever had before, and I consider myself to be a pretty giggly girl. Some day, I will be one of those beautiful old women with those lovely laugh lines on one of those faces that instantly puts you at ease.
I also was lucky enough to be home during the passing of a very dear friend. Through her passing I have learned no ends to the power of gratitude. It is really hard to have a bad day when you remember that you have so much to be thankful for, and we do all have SO much to be thankful for.
Throughout the month of July I decided that I was going to do a month of gratitude. I put a post it note on every day to remind myself to write something I was thankful for that day. "A job that I willingly wake up at 6:00am on a Saturday for." "Nights that leave evidence of mischief around your house that makes you smile the next morning." "Alex." "Julie." "Indoor plumbing."
Thank you Katie, for gifting me this new found sense of clarity and peace. You'll never know how much I think about you and how much I have learned through your passing. Thanks for taking a large chunk of the fear out of new beginnings. All I feel is thankful that I still get to have new beginnings.