reflections of the first year

June 4, 2012 § 7 Comments

i have longish hair now. it constantly falls across my eyes, obscuring my vision and instilling new hand gestures into my corporal lexicon, you know, the type usually reserved for those most follicle-ly talented of individuals. for whatever reason, sasha vujacic, katie holmes and jay chou come to mind.

que mechudo!
que pelo mas largo!
que pelo mas negro! parece casi azul!
the people say.

six months have passed since my last ill-advised self-mutilation of a haircut, a benchmark only slightly eclipsed by another anniversary, that of one year as a volunteer. how it’s crept up on me, like the hair now grazing the back of my neck. if i’m not wary, it’ll drown me yet.

there’s a line in The Odyssey when Odysseus, battered but unbroken by the trials of his journey, reaches the shores of his homeland. his unkempt sea-conditioned hair hangs before his eyes twenty years removed from its last encounter with a razor. my luscious locks (yeah i just wrote that) are a point of pride because i’ve tried on numerous occasions to grow out my hair, failing miserably each time. but more so, it’s one of only a handful of physical indications (the others being my disappearing waste line and my eviscerated not so optical-white chuck taylors) that i’ve undergone any sort of changes during this peace corps odyssey. i’ve had my share of encounters with the proverbial siren and cyclop, caught between that rock and hard place. truly, deep reverberations of self-discovery are not of the physical realm.

i thought a long time about what i would write for this particular post. i listed a number of topics i wanted to cover, ranging from Costa Rica’s international relations with China and Taiwan, the capitalist/socialist character of the government and society, the huge cultural gap between this generation of youth and their predecessors, etc,….in a few words, there are more than a few great similarities to the US. anyway, i couldn’t write it. i also wanted to talk about some of the work i have been doing. i could’t write that either. it’s now clear that i’m far too entrenched in this experience to properly render a well developed thought or opinion. i find myself in the throes of great introspection. though a struggle, it’s been enriching, as has been the relationships i’ve been fortunate to have visited upon me. another year remains, and i wonder how i’ll feel at the end of it. there are points of  encouragement in my personal and professional worlds, which i sometimes wish didn’t bleed into each other so. but i am happy.

i’ve learned that a peace corps volunteer is a displaced individual, stranded in the sea,  forced to confront moments of great humility. it’s life experienced at your most desperate, at your most earnest. but the trajectory from the point at which i began to where i find myself now suggests to me that though displaced, the peace corps volunter (eventually) emerges the individual discovered.

here’s to another year.

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