As my time in Swaziland is wrapping up, I’ve been thinking a lot about the transition ahead. I’m utterly terrified and completely excited to move back to the States. This probably doesn’t make sense to many people but it is possible to feel those things at the exact same time. I don’t think I can accurately put my feelings into words. My entire life is changing with this move. Yes, I’ve done big moves before, coming to Swaziland being one of them, but every move is different and this one comes with the stress of reintegrating to the States after two years away.
Peace Corps tries to help with this transition by having us attend a COS (Close of Service) conference. At the conference we discuss next steps for each of us, school, work, whatever will be next. We also discuss how to find a way to speak about our two years in Swaziland in a condensed manner that people will actually want to listen to, instead of the word vomit I would most likely share.
I know you will mean well when you see me and ask “How was it?” or something like that but know that I can’t answer that question simply. It’s been amazing, terrifying, exhilarating, frustrating, beautiful, depressing, wonderful, stressful, rewarding, heartbreaking and all around indescribable. This was not just an “experience” for me. This has been my life for two years. I’ve had ups and downs, good days and bad days, love, loss, days full of work and days full of utter boredom.
If I asked any of you to answer, “How was it?” upon my return, you would think “What is she talking about? How was what? My life?” That’s what I would like you to think about in preparation for my return home. Can you answer the question “How was it?” easily about the last two years of your life? My guess is you can’t. You’ve also experienced life while I’ve been gone, had your ups and downs, experienced changes, both good and bad. So knowing how much you’ve experienced and changed in two years, don’t be surprised when I can’t answer that question either.
Don’t get me wrong, I greatly appreciate the love, support and curiosity behind the question. I know that the intention is good. You are genuinely interested in hearing about it but know that I have no simple answer. If you want the long answer, I’ve written in a journal every day for the whole two years. I could share those journals but I’m not even sure I want to read them quite yet. Most likely you want the cliff notes version and I’m still working on that. Bare with me as I process my time in Peace Corps, leaving Swaziland and my transition back to life in the States. Eventually I’ll have a good cliff notes version for you with some funny anecdotal stories. Until then be aware that if you ask me “How was it?” I’ll probably answer “It was…my life.”