I feel like Liz Lemon. I’m currently in the Ouagadougou airport dropping my things all over, I’m pretending I remember how to wear layers relatively unsuccessfully (maybe I’m “power clashing,” like Jack Donaghy? Stripes on stripes because I can?) And to top it all off, my shirt was actually tucked into my underwear which was coming out of the top of my pants.
On the bright side, the entire Burkinabe soccer team is on my flight with me. I am not sure how that’s the bright side, especially since it makes me sad. Anyone who would care even a little bit is nowhere around and in fact the people that I want to tell most I will most likely never talk to again in my life. I can’t stop thinking about Rahim, a boy who participated in my summer camp. He is such a good kid, very sweet with a beautiful smile but the reason he is relevant to my thought process is because he really likes soccer. When we did sessions encouraging the students to think about their futures, he said he wanted to be a pro soccer player. So he would have thought it was so cool that I’m surrounded by professional soccer players.
I can’t believe it’s been two years and I’m leaving Burkina. As I stood in line to check my baggage, I suddenly felt like I was a sleepwalker snapping awake thinking “Wait, how did I get here? The last thing I remember doing was getting off a plane being welcomed to this country in what I imagined had to be the poorest excuse for an airport in the world. Now I’m in this relatively respective looking airport boarding a plane to leave?”
Of course I did not sleepwalk here and I remember getting here quite well. It started a couple of weeks ago. Most of my things were packed. I had a couple of goodbye dinners in my honor. I said goodbye to almost everyone I care about in my village. My friends kept telling me I shouldn’t leave (thanks for making this easier for me, guys). My kids hung all over me for a couple days saying with pouty faces “Lindsy, don’t leave. Please just stay. You’re not mean. What if the new person is mean? You should just stay here.” I assured them she would not be mean but they continued their pouting. The morning I left, the kids came to my house before school to help me clear the last few things out of my house, sweep, etc. Then we sat on my porch waiting for the taxi moto to come pick me up with all of my things. The taxi moto came and as it pulled away all the kids ran after us yelling “Bye! Lindsy! Bye!” and waving like crazy. And that’s as far as I get in my departure story until I get choked up.
But don’t worry – nothing too interesting happened after that. A long bus ride, medical appointments (no problems there), and running around making sure all my i’s were dotted and t’s crossed and suddenly boom! I’m no longer a PCV – I’m an RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer).
It’s funny – some moments, like when I’m walking around doing errands and feel like the sun is literally baking me or when something that should be easy takes hours and a pile of frustration to complete, I can’t help thinking “Get me out of here NOW! I am ready. I’m so over this!” But I’m going to miss my friends here a lot. My relationships with numerous people who are very important to me are changing drastically. I’ll only talk to friends in my village on holidays. And it won’t be about anything at all, just “Hello, Merry Christmas, how’s the family? Good bye.” I’ll probably never talk to my kids again, a few of which were my best friends. My relationships with PCV’s are changing, too. Any time I was excited or frustrated or bored during the past two years, I had so many people I could call who knew exactly how I was feeling. I know we’ll still keep in touch but it won’t be the same. After all, what are we going to talk about once our bowel movements are normal and we aren’t comparing village horror stories? But I’m prepared for these relationships to change (by prepared, I mean I’m expecting it, NOT that I’m happy about it). Possibly the most rattling prospect is the change that will inevitably take place in my pre-Peace Corps relationships. I will physically be in the same places I was 2 years ago with the same people doing many of the same things but, to sound cliché, I won’t be the same. I don’t feel like I’ve changed that much but when I talk to my friends and family about my rapidly approaching homecoming, it’s clear that I have. I wish there was another way I could say this because it makes me sound like a moody high school student but people aren’t going to “get” me the way they used to. And I probably won’t “get” them either. Even if it’s a tiny change, we’ve just spent the last 2 years of our lives doing drastically different things. It would be silly to think we’ll all be the same people. While it flew by, 2 years is a lot of time. And I will leave it at that, before I ramble on too much and (more importantly) before I have a panic attack in the middle of the airport.
Peace out, see you soon, America!