It’s difficult to prepare for a somewhat ambiguous adventure months in advance. The amount of paperwork alone that the Peace Corps requires is mind blowing, let alone the language courses and culture studies and medical exams and, ya know, preparing to do an about-face with your life.
I finally got my fingerprints sent off for my mandatory FBI background check. I’m still working on scheduling even the first of my medical screenings, because doctors hate me almost as much as I hate them. I’ve gotten some of my immunization records but it looks like I’ll have to have some of those redone because I don’t have all the records.
In the past couple of days I’ve gotten two of the longest emails I’ve ever seem, jam packed with information that I’m going to definitely need to know, but will undoubtedly forget. There’s everything from contact info to required paperwork to TEFL training to tests and assessments. And I’m sure there’ll be more coming.
I’ve also started to think about the things I’ll need for such a long trip and such a great lifestyle change. The other day I was tagging along as my sister thrift-shopped, and I found a suitcase. It’s practically brand new and looks as if it’d been used once. There was a single scratch on the back of it and a zipper tab missing and the inside is impeccable. And it’s big! But its so small! I mean, when you think about having to place into two suitcases all that you will need in your life for over two years, it’s a bit daunting. I also ordered a Kindle e-reader thing because I know that all I’ll want to pack my suitcases with is books, and its just not practical. So e-books it is! I feel like I’m betraying printed paper everywhere.
Honestly the greatest difficulty is understanding the paradox of time that is before me. Three months seems both too soon and too far away. On the one hand I have three months without a job (yet) and with so much paper work and so many hoops to be jumped through. It seems like it’ll be a year from now when I finally leave, maybe more. Mostly it doesn’t even feel real, like maybe it’s a dream and the bubble will just pop any time now. It’s easy to think of it as a far distant thing that’s not quite a reality, just as I’ve thought of it for years.
But it’s not far away at all. It’s only three months away. Three months to get to know my sister’s baby (who refuses to make an appearance even though my sister has been basically prolonged slow labor for several weeks!) Three months to settle accounts and get rid of my car mid lease. Three months to spend time with countless people who will have forgotten my existence by the time I reemerge in two and a half years.
(I imagine this will be rather like Robin Williams’ character in Jumanji when he comes out of his captivity in the game and has a long luscious beard and is unfamiliar with cars and technology and all the people he cares about have died or moved on to completely foreign lives. Hopefully there won’t be that many beasts on my trail…)
It’s no time at all. Three months. Three jam packed months. I have four very close friends’ weddings to go to in that time. Three family birthdays (counting mine haaa). One month of a full time, heavily demanding job… Three months is nothing.
I don’t think that there is a way to truly prepare for a thing like this. Every day I’ll be taking steps to acclimate myself to the reality unfolding before me, but I don’t think that ‘ready’ is what I’ll be when it’s time to go. I think I’ll think I’m ready, but then I’ll be just as surprised and shocked and mind blown when it actually happens, as if it had been a surprise all along.
Here’s to preparing for the unpreparable. (Hey look, I just made up a word.)