Sunday, April 18, 2010

T Minus 32 Days and Counting...

Time is sure rushing by! I'm finishing up my coursework to graduate on the 15th of May and preparing for departure on the 20th! While at times this seems very daunting (my to-do list seems only to expand and never shrink), I am keeping my priorities in order and doing my best, since that's all I can do. And it's starting to feel REAL.
Maybe it's because I'm finally graduating with my Bachelor's degree, or that I am about to do what I've wanted to do for a long time (work abroad and travel independently), or that I'm about to turn 27 (gasp). I'm feeling like I'm finally an adult, that I'm leaving something behind, that my life is starting to turn into these dreams that I've had forever.
I've been showing my apartment to sublease, selling off furniture and other small possessions. I even have my bike posted for sale online, which makes me a little sad. My TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) courses have hit a slow patch, since I'm in the midst of what college so affectionately refers to as "Crunch Time." It's about as pleasant as it sounds. But everything is going pretty smoothly still, which gives me reassurance that this is a good move for me.
I was speaking with a friend from class the other day, she's leaving for Alaska soon for a summer gig, and we were talking about the pressure of deadlines and excitement for the unknown futures which lie ahead for both of us. She asked me if I was scared to be doing what I'm planning to do. My smile slowly dripped from my chin, "No, I'm not scared. Maybe I should be!" I joked. But later I chewed on this comment again. I understand that this experience will be very different from the previous time spent in Galapagos: I'm no longer a student, but a teacher, I won't be living with a host family, I won't have a gaggle of American (and European) students as a support system, and I'm staying for a much longer period of time, nearly three times as long as before. This is not a recipe for disaster, but it will ensure that the "newness" that never seemed to wear off before will probably dissipate much quicker this time around. And I'm ok with that. :)
I thought about how I have always been a loner, and that I thrive on time spent solo in order to recharge and organize my thoughts and to be creative. Here in Colorado, I live alone, my house is my kingdom, and whenever I wish to have a human connection, I can simply offer a smile and a greeting, in my native tongue. Most people in today's world walk briskly without making eye contact and are plugged in (cell phone, iPod, whatever) and oblivious to what they are passing by, literally. I often feel invisible in my university and my town. It is what it is.
But I remember being in Quito and the Galapagos, I am not a round peg. I am tall and pale and my Spanish leaves much to be desired. Communication is more challenging, however I was always able to compensate through my typically animated speech and the kindness of the people, not to mention a pocket-sized bilingual dictionary. I realize that I will feel much more alone, even though I do have friends and a support system there.
But I also know that no matter where I am, Life will be the same, in that there will always be wonderful, exciting, joyous, smiling-so-big-it-hurts moments, and terribly embarrassingly frustrating, what-was-I-thinking moments, and plenty of mediocre ones in between. Because that's Life, no matter where you are and what you're doing, there is no perfect place. Even in paradise, shit still happens. And this is how people find beauty in simple things, everyday is sacred.
So, with a plane ticked purchased, a farewell party planned, and all my belongings for sale on craigslist, I check off one more day on the calendar: 32 days and counting.