Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Post-Christmas/New Years Vacation -or- Cheer Up! It's 2 years in Africa, Not a Flesh-Eating Bacterial Infection!

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.

1 comment:

Davy said...

I keep getting the "you are dying of cancer on feb. 20" look as well. It is annoying. People can't comprehend that I will not ever live in Dayton again and that I am not coming back to my waitressing job after the PC. They are actually surprised when I tell them I don't plan on coming back to Ohio for anything more than a two week vacation to visit family. Hello people! I didn't go to college to become a professional waitress and I am sure as hell not going to spend the rest of my life in a provincial city like Dayton.

The other day at work Anderson Cooper was on tv and he was reporting from the DRC and talking about the raping of women in the eastern part of the country and my boss and co-worker asked who was going to protect me in Africa. I explained that I was going to Zambia not the DRC. Honestly, why did the think a US government agency would send volunteers to a place where rape and violence is a daily occurrence?

Provincial and uninformed people annoy me.