When I was 14 (longer ago than I care to admit!), I travelled to Australia with an organization called People To People. It was my first dive into real travel, and I was HOOKED. It also ended up being a life-altering experience, but not until the ride home.
It was the plane ride home that essentially made the difference. Sitting next to me on that long flight was a woman returning from the Peace Corps. She had this...aura about her. Peace, calm, worldliness. Instant crush. She told me where she had been, how it affected her, etc. I actually don't remember most of the details, but I was in awe. Absolute awe.
That was the day a dream was born. I was going to join the Peace Corps. When I went to college, I studied International Studies, and as soon as I could, got myself accepted to "the toughest job you'll ever love."
9 years ago today, I left that job. I had a nervous breakdown, cried for 2 weeks straight, and when I went to see my "boss", she made the mistake of saying, "Do you want to go home?" Umm, YEAH! In hindsight, if they had gotten me therapy, in-country, I could have made it. I LOVED living there. It was my every dream come true, the life I had dreamed of. The job - not so much. But I know WHY now.
Regardless, of the whys or anything, it was, hands down, the most difficult decision I have ever made. It is also perhaps the one thing in life I truly regret. It took me YEARS to be able to discuss it. A while back I posted a song that, for me, is a reminder. I may repost it tomorrow, along with the poem I wrote. The one and only poem. I'm not a poet, LOL.
So much of who I am, of my dreams, hopes, EVERYTHING, is based on that time. That very small 6 months of my life oh, so long ago. I swore I would go back. Hasn't happened. But I hold onto that time for dear life. Nothing will ever compare. And very few decisions will match up to the one that led to me giving up my dream and facing reality. The pain, the despair I have felt with IF are very similar to the pain and the meltdowns I went through following my return to the States. It was the first time I ever really felt I had lost something I had fought for. The first time I felt like a failure.
Today, the 16th of November, will always be that day for me. Over time, it has gotten easier. But it will never go away. It will always be a part of me. Namibia, Africa, will always be a part of me. Forever. Just like IF. I don't have pictures I can show you right now, but maybe some day....
Maybe some day I will go back....