“I can’t begin to imagine what you’re feeling.”
This seems to be a popular refrain from my friends, wondering how I’m dealing with the unrest caused by my Peace Corps plans having been so abruptly pulled out from under me. One month before my scheduled departure to Ukraine, speaking of unrest, the Peace Corps pulled its current volunteers out of that country and promptly canceled our long-anticipated training. While the Peace Corps is scrambling to find new assignments for these volunteers, I find myself in limbo, my life on hold.
The sale of the house is on track and I will need to vacate this residence, this sanctuary of the past 13 years, in a month or so. I will need to finally detach myself from, and say goodbye to, Tatter, my constant companion. Admittedly, I sob shamelessly when I stop long enough to think about it. After all I’ve promised him to my old college roommate and his family and they are anxious to pamper him and make him a part of their lives as he’s been such a fundamental part of mine. I can’t go back on my commitment.
And I will then be alone and adrift.
I spent an hour on Craigslist looking for a small apartment or room to rent come May. Just passing through. First came sticker shock. The mortgage and taxes for my four bedroom house is paltry in comparison to what I’ll be spending for one room in the Capital District. Next, since I don’t know anything at this point about my reassignment, including when I’d be leaving, I can’t commit to a long-term lease. In that, the selection of rentals pales. And I’m torn between maintaining the comfort and lifestyle I now enjoy or jumpstarting a manner of living I will likely find myself in in the Peace Corps.
This is home after all. I have always enjoyed the safety and comforts of this home. Should I stay here and be surrounded by the familiar? I’ve lived here for 35 years, I know the area well, all the attractions, all the roads, all the places to enjoy and all the places to avoid. I have friends and fellowship here.
Perhaps I’ll travel, take that long-imagined trip across the country? Would I travel with purpose or wander aimlessly? One mile and one day at a time, eh? Why not? I don’t picture myself as a good vagabond or itinerant traveler though. I admire others who are like that. But can I extricate myself from the known, the comfortable, and dive into the abyss of the unknown? Give me a two-week vacation and I will plan the hell out of it: how long to travel in a day, where to stay, what to see, what to experience. Give me an open road or a lifetime and I will panic with indecision. And that’s where I find myself.
So here I sit wallowing in abeyance. I want and need some sort of direction, some purpose to fill the gap while the Peace Corps establishes some other direction for me. I need to mind the gap. What a great catchphrase the London Underground came up with? Mind the Gap alerts subway riders to be careful in stepping off the platform onto the rail cars. How appropriate to my situation. I’m standing on the platform, the safety of solid ground and I have one foot waiting to step onto something that will transport me away. So I stand here poised waiting for the next step. Will that step be backward onto the platform to find a place to wait? Possibly I will find a nice bench to sit upon, grab a coffee and talk with friends. And wait patiently for the Peace Corps train, the Peace Train. And there’s a whole riff on the 1971 song by Cat Stevens.
Or I could step onto the very next train that rolls down the track and let it take me to a different station. And I can wait there for my Peace Train? I can’t miss that train when it comes.
“I can’t begin to imagine what you’re feeling.” I truly appreciate the empathy I’m receiving and the fact that my friends worry about me. Honestly, I don’t know what I’m feeling. Mostly fear and confusion I believe. Fear, confusion and old song lyrics.
When will that next step take place and where it will land?