I check my email out of habit, never really expecting much. Well, ladies and gents, while on a train to Connecticut earlier today I opened an invitation to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi with a departure date of June 18th. I know, friends, my thought exactly: WHAT?!
My heart racing, I scanned through the email and the attachments with a smile on my face. Finally, after seven months of not knowing, I finally know in what this long process will culminate. College will finally pay off! I can finally do what I love: teach! Auuu!
I called my mom to tell her the news and her reaction made my heart sink a little:
“Africa? Tan lejos?!” So far?!
My initial excitement turned to sadness as I thought about the reality of things. I will be leaving my family and friends, all of those who I love with everything I’ve got. I will be leaving all I know behind, for 27 months. To think that I have to say goodbye, especially to my mother and nephew who are my life, just kills me. When I return my nephew will be twelve! Whoa, when I come back I will be twenty-eight years old! I will miss out on so many things. How many girls’ nights will I miss? How many dirty jokes will I not hear? Birthdays, chicken wings, weddings, kisses, laughs, births? What if I miss out on meeting the love of my life? I will face things that I can’t yet begin to imagine. All alone.
Then the thought occurred to me that if I stay here, I just may be the exact same person I am today in two years, unhappy with monotony and unsure of many things, purposeless. But if I do go, I will undoubtedly be a different Jax, full of purpose and perspective. That is a possibility I don’t think I can let go. I know that in twenty years, when I am settled with children and a husband and a career (or most likely alone with 20 birds), when I can no longer just up and leave, I will look back and think about the time I had the chance to travel across the world and make a difference and grow and learn and be happy but didn’t. I don’t want that. I love my family and friends, my home, running water and electricity, and even shitty little Central Falls, but I have nothing to lose by doing this, and so so so much to gain. I am scared, but not foolish.
It is not a guarantee as of right now, not until I fill out forms and have physical exams and shots and take xrays and muster up the much-needed courage to go through with this that it will be official. If all goes well, I will be leaving for Malawi in mid-June. Thank you all for your support and kind words.
I can’t even believe that shit. Little old smartass me in Africa, helping young minds find autonomy through literacy. How absolutely insane. Eighteen-year-old Jax would’ve croaked laughing at the thought!