Have you ever thought about how a jigsaw puzzle got its name? Small, irregular shapes that eventually become interlocking pieces are linked to make one hefty depiction. A puzzle – a problem or enigma that tests the ingenuity of the solver – is intended to produce a desired solution by means of recognizing patterns and by following a created particular logic. I’ll stop short of the tacky my life is a jigsaw avowal, but these two years are every bit a puzzle. My key to success and sanity is intertwined with the process of inquiry and takes a seriously high inductive reasoning aptitude to reach the ever changing fantasy „picture” on the PC box cover. Since I have entered into a life where no two sets of 12 hours bare similarities, exposing a pattern is damn near impossible. Since my title, objectives, and location are altered by the day, deduction skills lend no aid to this formula. The oddly-edged linking pieces are now: an elastic agenda, integration responsbilities, and a grizzly veteran on staffs’ speed dial list. They must discover a way to suitably connect with a village park project, facilitating training for the new volunteers, and a bit of ethnic adventure.
The start of summer threw a few more pieces into my ongoing riddle. The academic year concluded with our last bell ceremony, the matching bookend to my terrifying first day as Domnul Brett. I looked on as we celebrated the 12th form students that persevered as role models in the village, dressed in their graduation attire. Their caps, built from black construction paper and their recycled paper report cards are a paradigm reflecting just how much we take for granted in life. The resourcefulness and simplicity is exquisite. While the day itself was lovely, it became unforgettable when one of my dearest friends in Moldova presented me with an invitation to her wedding. Despite being notified just 6 days in advance, this was an event I could not wait for – the rumored chief affair in cultural integration. The pallid gown and exultant guests were about the only parallels to its’ American correspondence. The event, which started at 8PM, included a rendition of pin the tail on the single person (if unmarried, you wear an unmistakable flower pin), a baffling speech activity in we took turns giving a toast and announcing the exact amount of our monetary gift (my 50 Euros was not impressive), and too much drinking and hora dancing to keep track of. We left the premises at an estimated 7AM.
After a few days of recuperating, I was back on the side of the highway voyaging to the capital for the arrival of the fresh Moldova M28 volunteers in country. Following months of preparation, the process was impeccable, from the greeting at the airport to the baggage shuffling with training host family destinations. Their eyes were wide, their spirits with chipper and as I provided answers to their questions, an aura of perfectly orchestrated nostalgia filled the gaps, wherever the humidity left space. I stood in front of the health volunteers facilitating training sessions in the exact same rooms of the schools I was in just one year ago. While the whole translating thing, living out of a bag, and bouncing around cities has a cool vibe about it, the devious musing was too great to ignore. This summer, I am not on lockdown, being a slave of the language. Quite the opposite actually; I am attending parties where I watch American expats propose to their life partner after broadcasting the results of Prop 8; I am hopping town to town to see more of the country I have called home for a year; I am arranging the logistics of several international and epic excursions I will be taking in the coming months. Ah, sovereignty.
Sandwiched between assisting with training sessions and episodes in my village, another project held my attention: Turul Moldovei – a project coined and launched by a few of my fellow volunteers. Two groups were erected and set to walk the length of the country, one starting from the deep South and the other beginning at the Northern tip. While en route to meet each other in the center (Chisinau), each group would stop at towns and villages along the way for lodging, some chow, feet rejuvenation, and volunteer-endorsing activities with the locals. My village was ticketed for a Monday evening stop. We welcomed the walkers, escorted our visitors on a tour of Lapusna, and ended the evening with a big BBQ on the grounds of my future park project. Impressed with the disposition of the participants, three of my older boys joined us the following day. We set out towards Bobeica, the next stop just over 11km North. We exchanged stories, endured news crews, and even adopted the US Ambassador on our journey, a treasured end to a crammed month that artfully amplified my love for this country. I think back to last June and how it crawled by and attempt to compare it to this June that vanished in the blink of an eye. My schedule for tomorrow, next week, next month – clear as mud. I have returned to the land of invariable sweating, even while sound asleep. The fact that I am catching myself somehow reminiscing about the Eastern Europe winter I struggled to get through is austere.
My jigsaw puzzle is piecing together, as I am moving around this country with ease. While work re: my primary assignment in Lapusna may have come to a halt due to the Summer months, foreign streets are now familiar routs and macabre views are mainstream proceedings. I recently took a language exam and collected an “advanced low” grade, just a few steps below fluency. A prospect list is being amassed: 4 grad schools, 4 jobs, 2 fellowships with the idea of applications going out by mid-fall. I am signed up for the GRE in October, and I will follow same process that landed me here – put my name out to several captivating options and go with my gut as to what the future holds. While I may be constantly guessing as to which puzzle piece will reveal itself next, I can’t imagine life being more amiable and full of worth.