“Indeed There is Pain When the Spring Buds Burst”

Violet Carrillo - Ecuador

September 20, 2015

Today is my first day with who is to be my family for the next six months, and I have no idea which words describe how I’m feeling. Last night, as our host families were picking us up one by one, I told someone in my cohort: “When is the next time you’ll feel everything at once?” Apparently, the answer to my question was “Tomorrow.”

Other than baking an entire double layer cake from scratch this morning with my host mother, I have been in my room for most of the day: partially by choice and partially because my host mother thinks I will become fatally ill if I stay outside for too long in the cold. This morning I had told her that I wasn’t very used to weather like this, as Palestine is mostly desert and Hong Kong is tropical, and so her logical conclusion was that I should stay in my room until its time to cook again this evening.

However, my agreement to this arrangement is a result of having no idea how I am feeling at the moment, and needing a time alone to try to sort it all out. I’m awestruck by the Andes and the millions of stars I saw last night. I’m scared, because the pigs and chickens and infinite dogs at my home make unidentifiable noises quite suddenly. I’m excited, as my Spanish is slowly by surely improving through conversations with my ten-year-old sister who speaks so quickly thatitkindajustsoundslikethisallthetime. I’m humbled by the sudden availability and unavailability of water in the household during the day, dictating when you can and cannot cook, clean, wash, et cetera.

Really though, I’m just feeling too much of everything at once to properly sort out my thoughts and function like a capable human being at the moment. The only reason I was even able to separate those particular feelings out was because their products were right in front of me: the altitude has made me so cold that I’m debating whether two pairs of socks is overdoing it, the chickens are holding a stakeout in front of my door (i’m convinced that they are somehow out to get me), my sister is singing through the thin walls, and I realized that I really need to go to the bathroom. All at the same time. I understand all the metaphors drawn between arriving in your homestay and babyhood all too well now.

But of course, all of this is happening within me, and that has caused an off contrast in my world. It is really quite calm outside. The air is still. The light is soft. The noise minimal. The world carries on with such tranquillity that it is hard to believe that this experience is not a dream I have convinced myself is reality. The imbalance between my thoughts and my environment is so extreme that I cannot hope to find the words to express it in any language, because when it is all put as simply as you can put it, I have just been born again into this new life of mine, just as confused as any infant.

But as with all new lives, second chances, and next chapters, it is nobody’s responsibility but mine to take full advantage of it. And that is exactly what I plan on doing.

(PS: Maybe Swedish was the language with which to go. A poem I find mostly accurate for this moment in time is here: http://www.karinboye.se/verk/dikter/dikter-engelska/of-course-it-hurts.shtml )


Violet Carrillo