I arrived in Philadelphia a few hours ago. I’ve power napped, met a couple other volunteers, ate a thousand complimentary Hershey’s Kisses, and meandered over to the neighboring shoppping center for Chipotle and Starbucks. I can’t remember the last time I took a shower.
I left Montgomery bright and early this morning. No matter how much my mother insisted that I was actually deploying, the desk worker did not grant Mom, Dad, and Daniel a gate pass that is typically granted to family of military personnel before they ship off. They walked me as far as the security checkpoint, I put on my big girl britches, I turned around and stepped forward to begin the next era.
A flood of memories came to me as I recalled the day I moved out 4.5 years ago, with that same giant green duffel bag I stole from my mom. This time, Mom’s stolen duffel is being accompanied by Mom’s stolen camping backpack that she took with her on the Camino last year.
As is to be expected, I’m drained both emotionally and physically. And I smell. And I can’t remember in which of the four billion pockets I packed my soap. But as has been my mantra for this adventure, I’ll figure it out eventually.
Tomorrow at noon is when Staging officially begins. Staging is “Hi, we’re the Peace Corps, and this is what to expect.” The following day we only have two things on the agenda:
1. Check out of the hotel
2. Fly to Africa
My body hates me for packing as much as I did. I didn’t try carrying everything on my own until after I had already landed in Phillie, and when I finally hefted all of the weight on me at once I just about tipped over. There are 30 pounds of “things I can’t live without” hanging off my back alone, and I’m dragging another 60+. I’m still curious to find out which precious thing I left behind. I already know I left the sleeping pad. Shoot. Also, where did my camera go? Did I seriously just leave for Africa and leave my camera at home?
For the past month I’ve felt like I’ve been walking a fine line between extreme tranquillity and “holy canoli this is overwhelming.” The love and support from others has helped the most. Every text, every Facebook message, every person whose come out to wish me bon voyage has helped remind me that even though I’m leaving the known behind, I’m about to step into something that’s gonna be incredible.
So here I am. Tomorrow we all meet each other, and the day after that we fly off to Africa. To a place I’ve never been. Speaking a language I don’t speak. Doing a job I know nothing about. Without my lovely puppy, Ziva David, to help me through it.
I hope it doesn’t sound arrogant, but here’s one way to describe how I feel right now: I am so proud of me.