The last few weeks have been maddening. In an attempt to get as many pennies into the coffers before we leave as possible, I took on as many students as I could, some transcription work for a friend in a doctoral program, and a rush translation job for a tourist board near here. C and I have also been tying up all the loose ends we have here, as well as scrambling to learn as much Spanish as possible before we go.
As the weather’s gotten nicer, I’ve been stuck indoors, typing away, preparing lessons or teaching. I haven’t been creating (and I assure you that every word I’m typing right now is like pulling water out of that proverbial stone), I haven’t done yoga, gone jogging or hiking…in fact, I haven’t gone out much at all. C’s spent 3 out of the last four weeks away for work, and there hasn’t been time for anything…well, there has been some time, but I’m awful at taking advantage of snippets of time during the day. I need an open horizon before I can chill. A vacation would be nice. But while we’ll be taking flight in the very near future, there will be no time for R&R. But that’s okay.
For the past couple of years, I’ve kept a running to-do list that spans 2 weeks – the one I’m in and the one about to come. It helps for lesson planning and not-going-crazy in general. The other day, I clicked on the week after we leave in my calendar and was practically blinded by the white emptiness that greeted me. And that was when it occurred to me: We’re going to Ecuador.
The truth is that with a little luck, this will not be a particularly relaxing endeavor at all. If all goes to plan, there will be limited time to chill because it will instead be filled with growth and learning and new beginnings (because this trip is just one of what we hope will be many). I have this sense that if things go right, it will feel like going to stay with an old friend. Even if I’m not overly confident about my handle on Spanish yet, and even though I’ve never been to Ecuador, and even though I’ve never lived onsite with the benficiaries I’ve worked for, and even though the food situation is going to be interesting at best, I’m going to be working in my field. The ways my days are spent will be doing what I know I can do well, for something that means everything to me. I just feel like some part of me will look in the mirror and say, “We’re back,” to which my reflection will reply, “Took you long enough.”
All hallucinations aside, the reality is that all of this is probably going to be incredibly difficult and frustrating. It is possible I will scream into my pillow several times over the course of the next six months. But bearing in mind that I absolutely love where we live, make no mistake – I cannot wait to get on that plane and get the hell out of here.
But that’s the thing, really – it’s not so much out-of-here that I want to get, but into-there…I want to get to that place where I am inspired, where I feel a sense of purpose strong enough that I am not deterred by the ten thousand distractions and setbacks and obstacles. I want to get to that place where the clinical-sounding word “outcomes” translates to real foundations being built, where opportunities and hope are born into the darkness, and where people collectively learn to trust in the possibilities created when they work together toward something truly valuable.
I know it isn’t all sweetness and light. Nowhere I have ever worked has lacked darkness, or has suffered an overabundance of trust. But this is the journey I want to wake up to in the morning. At least for the next several months I’ll get that chance again.
Forgive my rambling…it’s been very difficult to write on WI&WN for some time now, because I haven’t felt like I had much to bring to this particular conversation. It will undoubtedly be bumpy at first, but the ride is about to begin.