Do you ever scan the room, concentrating on every little aspect in hopes of memorizing that exact moment? That happens to me at least once a day, something I have come to believe cannot be replaced by any sum of money. On a daily basis I find myself impressed or learning something new. Sometimes, the piece of imformation I have learned ain’t so pretty – I have compiled plenty of undesirable moments, yet even more brilliant memories. As of this week, I have officially been in Peace Corps Moldova for 6 months and have completed ¼ of my service. I have taught an entire semester of health education in Romanian, sworn into the US Government, and am just a few weeks away from the freedom to travel wherever my heart desires (and my wallet allows). Therefore, this installment of BrettOnTheClock will be dedicated to: What I Miss vs The Crap that is Happily Deleted from my Life.
What do I pine for:
Of course I miss family and friends, being home, and conversations in English, but since these seem to be a given, I’m going to focus on the less palpable material (Sorry Mom and Dad). There are times where I believe I would sell my liver on the black market just for a chance at a 10oz. steak or to devour a plate of sushi. Then I ponder, what I would do for a nice clean shower that would provide hot water for an extended period of time? Oh, and a toilet for leisure – the first opportunity I get to have a real, sanitary toilet, I may just bring my laptop, a good book, and a snack in there with me and call it a day.
Leisure.. what an utterance. I absolutely took for granted the ability just to hop in my car and drive to the store, or maybe to a pool or the lake. Being in a remote village, it’s either the small Alimentara (like an 7-11 with less than half the selection and minus the gas and amazing slurpee mcahines), or the other Alimentara. Leisure activities are limited to surfing the oft-absent internet or reading a book.
Freely flowing water and camaraderie feel like they are dangling in front of my face. Custody of these, for so many years, seemed prearranged, as if a person would never be without them. When feeling parched, I would walk downstairs and pour myself a glass of water. Here, I must go to the trouble of boiling and filtering water, just to quench my thirst. I really take pleasure in the revealing of some object I used to take for granted. This past week when my students brought in a bucket of water from the fountain a half a mile from the school grounds to the classroom, I had my most recent revelation while they were taking turns dipping a cup into it. In my high school and college, we had water fountains in every hallway, on every floor.
Enjoying a glass of ice water over a nice meal with my family or a good friend, now that I yearn for.
Goodbye, Good Riddance:
Maybe the reason I started to undervalue time with these people were due to the fact that all eyes were constantly glued to a smart phone. Yes, I was a renowned participant in this act, but I surely wasn’t a fan. My best friends and I used to go out to dinner, compile our smart phones in the center of the table and say whoever is the first one to touch their phone pays the bill. That is what it came to in America, when the iPhone became the guest of honor at the table. In Moldova, as is the case in many poverty-stricken locale around the globe, this is simply not an option. Conversation is relied on and cherished; this is time of recreation is a shared and welcomed interruption from other labor and fears.
Which brings me to attitude. The shrewdness I used to observe surrounding a clothing brand or a standard of living just did not make sense. I was so entrenched in this societial way of thinking that I completely lost sight of the way we can measure peoples’ abilities and existence. For example, a week ago the Health Education volunteers stayed in the capital for a 7-day training of sorts. We were given our keys to our 1-star (optimistic) hotel, and told to be back early the next morning. Our communal shower and bathrooms did not prompt whines and groans, but instead laughter and brainstorming sessions of how we can make this environment more comfortable for our Moldovan partners. The outfits were the same day in and day out, the milieu was laughable, but the standpoint was stimulating.
Whether it is payable to Peace Corps or a developing country, such is Moldova, life is so intricate yet wonderfully unadorned at the same time. For a makeshift thanksgiving with my American comrades, we had to make due with our limited amount of prospects. Instead of going to the omitted supermarket, we bargained with a host family for two live roosters and were handed the task of executing them and preparing them for dinner. From the axe, to the plucking of the feathers, to the dislodging of the intestines by hand it was every bit of the adventure I will never forget. Through my first six months, I have tackled Alcohol/Drugs/AIDS education in the school while making myself a slave of the language. I am integrated into my community and departing from the primary stages of my service. Now my focus moves on to health campaigns and secondary projects – leave a lasting mark is the key to my conquest. These collections of stories, remembrance of times, will stick with me forever. I can only hope the lessons I am learning and the relationships I am forming will also prove eternal. There is no app for this.