Sitting here, back in my living room in Bethesda Maryland is a crazy thing now that I think about it. I just lit shabbat candles and am alone in my house. So many Friday nights I remember sitting silently in my room in Ecuador wondering what my friends and family were doing with their start to the weekend.
“Did anyone else light their shabbat candles?” (I think I’m the last one in the family who still does…)
“Is mom having a dance party in the kitchen like I used to have on friday night?”
“Is anyone else lonely in a house full of people tonight?”
“I wonder which college friends are out having a great time?”
“I wonder which college friends are studying and feeling accomplished tonight?”
But now, here I am wondering how My family in ecuador is doing? It’s currently Inti Raymi which is a large harvest festival for indigenous people in Ecuador but in my town of Cotacachi, people take to the streets in droves wearing fuzzy chaps ‘Zamarros’ and huge leather sombreros with clubs and strings attached. They dance, sing, fight whistle, eat.
Now that I’m finally home, home doesn’t seem to have the same hopefulness that it did when I was looking forward to coming back to it. I’m here feeling just as lost as I did before I went away. I made a goal to come home with a clear next step in life, but every inch I move forward makes me second guess my next full step.
It has not been easy transitioning back into the United states, at least it didn’t feel this hard going to ecuador. I’ve talked to a lot of my program friends even though they’re all really bad at staying in touch. I’ve managed to ascertain that a healthy handful of them are having just as hard of a time as I am being home. I actually met up with the girl who stayed with my host family before me, (My sister technically! She goes to school at AU here in D.C!) and she gave me a lot of helpful insight into what it’s like getting back on track. It was really helpful to hear from someone who has been through a lot of similar experiences on a separate timeline.
I’m finding that it can be difficult to hold on to the lessons I learned and the person I want to be when I’m thrown right back into the same environment that made me want to run away in the first place. All of the same people doing the same things testing you to be who they know rather than who you are trying to introduce. My dad makes it especially hard on me… him, being so macho and manly, joking about girls and feelings just like we used to, even though I’ve told him I don’t agree with them anymore. Maybe going to school in the fall will be a good change of scenery, even if all I want to do is stay home in my stomping ground.
Going somewhere unimaginable seemed like such an adventure vs going to school… again… It feels like there are so many expectations now to go and become a nice jewish professional instead of the curious multilingual adventurer. I’ll be going to a small school in FL in the fall but I’m not sure that’s what I want to do. I was going to go to a STEM school here in MD (University of Maryland Baltimore County) but it was a bit pricey for only one parent to afford. I was set on going to UMBC because I had everything set up to go there. I wasn’t super passionate about going but it was just what seemed like the best school I got into. But now I’m just settling for what is practical. Maybe I should have run off and joined the Navy when I had the chance? But again, I’m not sure that’s what I want to do either; It sounds more like someone’s expectations of me.
I can’t sit in uncertainty like I did my senior year of high school. I have to make a decision and stick to it with regards to my future, or to at least be brave enough to take the step forward and to be gritty enough to weather the fall if I slip up. My grandparents both died recently at 96 and 90 within two weeks of each other. While it is a tragic time for my family we’ve noticed that everyone in the family who dies of natural causes makes it into their 90s. The joke that has come out of it is that while I battle with myself over my future, there’s no rush to set on a life long path because I’ll probably have another 75 years to figure it out anyways.
Realistically I know that I’ll be okay wherever I end up, and that the changes I made from Ecuador are only the first of many changes I have to make for myself. I wanted to make this post dramatic and artistic being that it very well might be my last, but seeing it now at the very end makes me laugh cause it seems almost too serious and somber but thats where I’m at now… but come ask me about how I’m doing now and we can discuss the struggles of gap years! and school years! and work weeks! and all the complexities that fill every minute that make us people.