Two-and-one is the count. I swipe at the boiling sweat from my brow and take a breath to realize the momentus occasion. Intense lights, sounds, and smells. My outstretched hand outfitted by the aged leather, I wait for the blistering delivery from Mr. Sandy Koufax himself.
A knock on the door.
120 days, but who is counting. As I was scribing a piece about timing and emotional state – I realized something; if I’m having baseball daydreams while hunkered down in the outhouse… maybe it’s time to go.
I’ve written for a while now, reflecting on sensations and attainments. The protacted days and weeks are the framework of my whimpers, but the vanishing months fuel delight. Its quite surreal to think back to the beginning. A few sentences jotted down on an index card being recited in front of the people who showed up to celebrate the first day of school. And now. Now, I find myself in this emotional utopia. I’m in no rush to leave – but I couldnt be more excited to go home. I subsisted through the Prologue of my non-fiction, and am living out the body. My reunion with family, friends, American restaurant chains, and SportsCenter are pending – and they will all pair nicely with a Microbrew. I’m just not yet quite ready to get on a plane.
Each day I have to force myself to conentrate on living in the moment. It’s so easy to drown in the plans for the future and trap ourselves in the past. Not exclusive of a few deal sweetener’s to throttle motivation, my business club is putting the final touches on their year long project as we are currently painting their peace mural. What they certainly lacked in hustle, they made up for in inventiveness. Few things will bring me as much joy as their growth and maturity, but a groovy thing laced itself in to the process: The whole school is excited and supportive. Instead of micromanaging the volunteers’ projects/activities before he departs, the action of painting directly on the walls of the school (a big deal for Moldovans) is so sponsored, they are even showing us off to the local news next week.
Confessional: the basketball team I formed was not an altruistic motive. Potatoes and bread, the staple of a Moldovan diet, had awarded a soft layer to my exterior. I wanted to stay in shape and communicate through sports. The incredible group of young men continue to push themselves each practice and ask for new fitness demonstrations daily. Damnit, if there energy isn’t contagious. I don’t have the balls or the will to tell them that the drop off of competition is the reason why I look like a Varsity athlete. Its a win-win, really. However, one of my best players and I worked together to score a tryout with a semi-professional team. While the mini-camps will last throughout the summer, this great kid has a chance to earn his way to a University scholarship and on the map of International scouts. Dedication and utter joy shadow his movements these days, which is a victory in and of itself.
While I’m surprised daily by how much I enjoy art projects with my teenage scholars and healthy comptetion with my athletes, the themes that come alive are what resonate delight these days. Recently, we fortuitously provoked a „Banii aduc fericire” discussion. Translation: Money brings happiness. Despite the apparent variables, what came next was astounding. The teenage girls moved to the „true” side of the room, while the boys who speak with vulgarity and often act with crass rejected that money brings happiness. It was a full on discussion, thick with excellent points and germane examples. We eventually came to the conclusion that its a neccessary element of life that doesn’t automatically complement happiness. Let’s call this what it was: an American standing in front of students in a developing country. In a culture that labels itself as poor and America as rich. In a world where technology is just being introduced into production and life-expectancy is finally being protrayed as an elastic goal and not a concrete fact.
The ability to carry out abstract projects and put our heads together to either discard taboo or underpin a fresh opinion is truly remarkable. We would not have been able to do it if we didn’t perservere all the way through the 2 year service. Trust took time. Instead of talking about balanced diets and self-confidence, we have moved on to combating eating disorders and annihilating stereotypes. What an incredible relationship of trust we have built. Oh and to stall for classes, I’ve installed the classic notebook game of M.A.S.H. (where „random” integers decides your future spouse and outlines your life in the making). Excuse my language, but these kids go ape shit over it. Clapping, jumping, and screaming were all in on the fun. Plus, shoutout to Catălin – the boy who ran the awesome victory lap after finding out hie future home is Las Vegas. Total power move.
I miss things like classic St. Patricks day celebrations and lounging in front of SportsCenter during Free Agency/March Madness. But hey, we have 40 saints day coming up.. where we take 40 shots of house wine throughout the day. Yeah, yeah of course its re: sacred blood from a different religion than my own.. but still sounds like a party to me! Also, coming up on the loosely-coined agenda are exit conferences, bittersweet changeovers with community partners, and deciding on which grad school I want to attend next year. Sure, I could choose to focus on having people ready to continue my work here or concentrate on the proceedings that come coupled with the switch to the next chapter. I will love my final gardening cycle in Moldova and make sure not to squander my remaining moments. Not with the prodigious citizens who created these memories. Not with the fellow volunteers, an adopted family of resilient and wonderful people with whom we’ve created a synergy beyond compare. I’ve learned a ton and have had the time of my life… I’m just not quite prepared to depart. But, this part of the non-fiction has underscored my future calling and the length is just right. The pages are turning and the epilogue (for this section, at least) is ready to be written.