on wanting to write and next

Laura Rohrer - Brazil


July 8, 2011

I am not a journaler. When I was a little girl I wrote short stories about fictional things because the things that happened to me in real life didn’t seem like they belonged in stories, or at least good ones. But I journal.To be clearer I do not journal recreationally.  I used to try it because people said it was good for me, and because I always received lots of journals on my birthday. As a kid I did it at church camp because I was always given a 3×5 spiral notebook which I was instructed to mod podge with pictures from magazines and then pray to God in or write about bible verses. Sometimes it was a whole 9×7 inch composition notebook which was much more intimidating than the 3×5.

I journaled this year when I was trying to think of a blog, and when I wanted to make sure I didn’t forget something important. I guess I’ve become more open to the benefits of journaling. Recently a word came to my head, one that seemed so pervasive and exact about how I was feeling in the moment that I felt like writing it down, just because I didn’t want to forget. The word was bereft.

I don’t usually use this word, but I remembered a poem with it and I thought of the poem and I thought of the word and I felt it. Hard. I had to look it up in the dictionary online because I couldn’t remember exactly what it meant: deprived of or lacking something, esp. a nonmaterial asset. This wont be a depressing blog post, because I want to  pour out my gratitude to Global Citizen Year. I want it to be a shining glad moment with good music that might make you cry like at the end of Remember The Titans or Free Willy.

On May 7 my plane was landing at Seatac airport and it was shaking and I was alone, my eyes welling up because suddenly I fully comprehended what was coming for me, sooner than I wanted: home. Besides the promise of seeing my family for the first time in almost 8 months, I didn’t feel like Seattle had anything to offer me. Culture shock hit me faster than I anticipated as we were driving home and I had an easy view out the window. Concrete and green and gray everywhere, people hiding in their houses, and so much quiet. I went out and began to ask myself irritably about the irrationality and strangeness of how I lived before here. Why can’t people talk louder? What’s the point in being so subtle when you walk down the street? Why is everyone reading on the bus?

The dread that hit me so suddenly on the plane was finally the true realization that being home again wouldn’t be the same. I feared going back because while I was overseas I realized how much of me is made from home. Being from Seattle is what made it so difficult for my family in Sao Francisco do Conde Bahia Brazil to understand me sometimes, for me to sometimes understand them. I was planning on coming back. I knew when it would happen, that it would happen, and all of the time it was okay with me. But I wasn’t planning on how I would feel or react upon my return.

The last two months have been needless to say, rough. The stark contrast of where I was, who I was with, what I was doing for the last year, and where I am now, without those people and places that became very dear to me is just, yeah, stark. Yet I’ve also discovered some important things about myself and what this experience has done for me. Despite the grief that comes with being so far away from so many valuable and cherished friends, both Americans and Brazilians, I have come to appreciate in myself a new determination and enthusiasm to continue living in a much more awake and deliberate way than I was even capable of or aware possible before I did Global Citizen Year. I look forward now, my future a little less hazy than before, my hopes and interests, my strengths and weaknesses a little more clearly defined. Yet strong and heaving heavy stay my memories of this year, and as I continue to try and make sense of their impact I can confidently say that they aren’t ever going away.

Laura Rohrer