Comfort

Noah Hapke - Ecuador


August 24, 2015

When I look back at the past nineteen years of my life, an abundance of memories immediately flock my head. Singing in front of sold-out audiences. Dipping strawberries into delicious chocolate for people. Getting pure joy out of making four clicks when I punch my tap shoes into a wooden floor. Sipping my iced coffee in Starbucks while working on stacks of homework, for the sole purpose of advancing to a new place where I can sit and work on more heaping piles of paper.


Towards the end of the summer, approaching my senior year, some of us were saying goodbye to my friend who would be entering her freshman year in college. Talking, laughing, sitting together on the wooden benches outside, underneath the dark blue skies of Los Angeles, I shared my desire to find more meaning in the world: to not allow paper and pencils to dictate my life.


The funny thing about applying to college, or moving on in general, is the fear of forget and loss of comfort. I am comfortable singing for hundreds. Comfortable pinching the leaves of a strawberry and dipping it three-quarters into perfectly tempered chocolate. Comfortable driving my car down the coast. Comfortable going to bed every night in my bed. Comfortable with the idea of following the American expectancy of going straight to college.


When I expressed my interest to join the Peace Corps after college, my friend mentioned a program to me, called Global Citizen Year.


I wake up now in the Alliance Redwoods, about to step foot onto a new ground. About to walk into a new and unknown territory. About to lose all the comfort I know. Forget.


I decided to apply to Global Citizen Year, just as a way to say “I’m applying to something outside the box.” I had always hated the idea of going straight to college not because one wanted to go but solely because America has a stigma against not immediately going. But after filling out the interest form, and sending in the application, and completing the interview, I realized how ready I am to forget about everything at home. I am ready to lose comfort.


I have said goodbye to my family. I have given long and very tight hugs to each of my friends. I have pulled the SIM card out. I have made myself ready to place comfort into a new atmosphere. A new home. A new family. A new set of friends. A new country. A new me.


Looking at everything, the whole reason we leave is to forget, to lose comfort.


This is insane.


If you had told me my freshman year of high school that I would be going to Ecuador, that I would be taking a ‘bridge’ year, that I would not be going straight to college, I would have laughed and cried at the same time. But now my reaction is nearly the opposite, or the same, actually, because laughing and crying are pretty much opposites of each other, right? I’m laughing because this is so insane. I am embarking on a totally different adventure, and yet I have prepared myself to the best of my ability. I’m crying inside, not externally, because I could not imagine going straight to college, and this opportunity is, I already know, once in a lifetime.


I am ready to place my comfort in the hands of someone new.

Noah Hapke