For the past few weeks, I have been irritated by the tone most of the people around me seem to use when talking about me leaving soon: as if I was dying of cancer and February 20th is my expected date of death. It bugged me, because it's not like I'm never going to return! I'm going to go do this Peace Corps thing for 2 years; it will benefit the village I'll be living in, and it will benefit me as well (more responsible, more mature, more prepared to be a real grown-up in America with a real job). I was sick of answering questions and comments as if I was denying the seriousness of some flesh-eating disease or lung cancer. However, I realized something the past few days.
I just got back from a trip my dad and I took to Arizona, to visit my grandma and uncle, Kevin, and his family. My grandma is 83 and has had an aneurysm on her aorta for a while now, so I'm not sure if she'll even be around by the time I get back. When my dad and I first arrived, I tolerated the usual questions about Africa and how long it is and how much things are going to change... But coming from an 83 year old woman who is trying to get the most out of every opportunity to see her family members (and on my dad's side of the family, that's a LOT of people) having a somber attitude about me going to Zambia for 2 years and 3 months seemed much more appropriate. Coming from her, I didn't find it irritating that she would be sad that I'd be leaving, instead I totally understand: she's afraid that it might have been the last time she'd see me, and that I'd see her (in this life/world/whatever the hell you believe happens after you die). Considering a few rocky years I'd had with my dad due to his ex-wife (my ex-step-mom) during high school that also took a couple of years away from her being able to get to know me, made it even more understandable. I also understand that everybody else who is getting all bummed about me going to Africa is only doing so because they will miss me. That's fine, I get it, and I'll miss you too. But this aside, unless you are also suffering from a debilitating illness, please stop talking about me going to Zambia in a month and a half as if it were my last month and a half to live. This should be a happy time! This is going to be a fun and very educational experience for me, and I am NOT dying, so pick your chin up and look on the bright side. Plus, keep in mind that I already graduated college over a year and a half ago, and that seems like just yesterday; 2 years will go by surprisingly fast as well.