(All quotes are pretty damn exact! at least to the best of my knowledge. I made an effort not to embellished).
To preface this post I would like to say that I initially planned to write this post about climbing Mt. Pichincha and ending up in the hospital.
Then I was going to write it about Spending the jewish new years with the most diverse group of jews I had ever seen and how I met the Israeli embassador at synagogue.
But I just spent an hour on face time with my ex girlfriend (I guess?) and now I’ve decided I need to rant about relationships.
Me and her mutually decided to end whatever we had when it was apparent that we were going to opposite ends of the Americas. I knew that I felt very strongly for her at the beginning of our conversation which is why I was trying to get in contact with her to begin with. But by the end of our chat, it was clear which way those strong feelings weighed on my heart. Our conversation consisted of mostly talk about how school is for her and all the crazy things I’m doing here in Ecuador. “Classes start tomorrow, I think I picked a really tough course load!” “thats exciting, I’m sure you’ll be fine though! I watched an entire neighborhood burndown today while I ate lunch”.
About halfway through I made the mistake of asking if she had met any guys she liked. She responded with a coy smile “well not like a boyfriend”… I tried not to dwell on the fact that she was sleeping with other people because I had known that that would happen. We continued talking and later on I made a suggestion that seemed like common sense in order to avoid getting spammed from various clubs in exchange for their free paraphernalia. “Why don’t you just give them a false e-mail?” a light had gone off in her head because her eyes illuminated and she retorted “OHHH, well we can’t all be as smart as you!” “I guess not, you’re only in an Ivy league school” (Dartmouth, mazal tov chicka). We continued talking and she asked about what my days consist of. I gave her the rundown from 5am to 11pm, but when discussing the afternoon sessions (now morning sessions for the last week in Quito) I found myself at a loss for how to exactly describe what we do exactly. “The Ecuador cohort meets together in a building in the middle of the big central park, la Carolina, and we have different programs that range from the sex talk we’ll be having on thursday, to expectation setting and vision statement making”. She asked me to elaborate and I joked that it was a bunch of soul searching activities. She asked me to be more specific and something ignited in me. I told her about vision setting:
“We had to write about what we hoped to accomplish this year and in the process were really forced to analyze ourselves and our motives. I started writing my piece and my inner writer sparked so I tried to craft a masterpiece in 30 minutes. I was only halfway through though when I was told to go and share it *hahaha*. I finished it the other day though! I wrote about where I come from and all the things that were weighing on my soul that made me want to escape the place where Mexico doesn’t send its best. I included animosity towards my mom ditching me to go sightseeing right before I left, my ideas on being guaranteed nothing in life and carrying nothing but a knife and my clothes out into the world with me. But that this year I want to stop shutting people out and learn to let people into my life so as to understand me better rather than just holding them at a distance to view my life in its goofier more basic tenants and expecting people to understand”. I’m not really sure what was said from there but we didn’t revisit me bearing my soul again and instead we changed topics a few more times and talked about my love of orchids (there are so many here!) then the time I got kicked out of my room in the hostile when we first got to ecuador (I ended up recreating the scene from “Alvin and the Chipmunks” where Theodore asks to cuddle with Dave because he had a bad dream) then said goodbye.
I was shaking while holding my phone in my hands and I realized how damn cold I was, or at least how cold my arms were. My face felt red and hot and I realized that I wasn’t really breathing. Trying to understand this awkward state I was in, I realized that I was angry, and at her. Not because she was sleeping with other people, not because I was envious of her cozy first world problems or because I ended the call on a sour note. I was upset because I had inadvertently opened up to her, spilling my guts across our video chat and she had managed to hold our conversation back at a shallow level.
I was experiencing reverse culture shock.
Such a shift from my normal analytical conversations. even joking with my friends here I feel like I learn something. Everything just felt so forced and insincere. I don’t think I could relate to her anymore than she could to me. We had sat for an hour talking to each other tapdancing around the fact that it was a hard conversation to have not only because she was my ex (I think?) but because we dared not go into depth about ourselves for fear of making things awkward.
I found myself thinking of my friend Noah. He never feared to venture into discomfort in conversation. To push poke and pull apart ideas even if they seemed straight forward. Every conversation with him felt like an interview of the soul in relation to: Deer in bethesda? José Cuervo and Santa Ana?! A documentary on the rape of Nanking I watched while I waited for another friend to show up?!?! When I explained to him before I left how I wanted to learn how to connect with people rather than keeping them at a distance for fear of them not liking the real me as I had done with so many girlfriends, He told me how surprised he was to hear me say that and that it was the weakest things he had ever heard me say.
I realize now that even when I come home, no one is going to truly be able to relate to what I have to say, but to entertain ideas and to jump into though regardless of how it makes one feel should be a universal norm in order to begin to understand someone. You might think someone is your friend but until you learn to be honest and ask the difficult questions they might as well be a stranger.