I don’t Want to Miss a Thing..
One of my old time favorite songs from the classic Armageddon. The entire decision process to join the Peace Corps was stressful, straining, and yet clear all at the same time. Inevitably I knew in my heart that I would go with my gut even though that came with uncertainty and guilt. The ambiguous variables were the obvious: Where would I serve? Where would I live? Would I like it? The guilt stemmed more from leaving a job that I loved, and doing so in the typical Ang not-so graceful fashion because I didn’t want to hurt feelings. Processing through the guilt and uncertainty through long conversations with my soul sister Sarah in Michigan, dates with Johnny, wine nights with the girls, deep conversations over wrapping silverware at the Farm, planting flowers at the greenhouse, and long runs with Britt, well it was more of the why not mentality that won me over. Especially thinking about the regret that would come with not joining. I spent an entire year preaching and inciting middle school students and my niece to follow their dreams and it was about damn time I led by example.
My sister either is one intuitive little bugger or she was desperate to have me stay home. A month prior to committing to the Peace Corps she expressed concern that I would actually regret more if I missed things like my grandparents’ final years, milestones in the lives of my niece and nephews, friends’ weddings and births of children. Her point only prompted more confusion and she really put the cherry on top. Exactly one month after this conversation and on the actual day that I resigned from my job, she called to tell me a “secret.” I was sworn not to tell anyone and as the news came rumbling out, I was in shock! She was expecting…and 2 months later we found out it was twins. Although I had a slight theory that she got pregnant to keep me home, my ego was brought back to the universe realizing that although she loves me dearly, she doesn’t love me that much. It was a BIG surprise that she was preggo…again!
I started writing this post oh about 2 months ago, and am now sitting down to finally finish it. Forcing myself to sit down to process all that has happened after such a long, emotionally draining, and yet surprisingly peaceful week 2 weeks. As humans, I think especially as females, we do not want to miss a thing. We want to be “in the know,” and to feel in the loop at all times. Ecuador is already teaching me so many valuable lessons. I am living in a country that values relationships more than anything. While I greatly miss all the loving, lifelong relationships that I am surrounded by at home, I am also building new ones here. New relationships that I also hope will last a lifetime.
My dearest Anna was in-part correct. Missing the last moments of loved ones proved to be very difficult. It was tough, but it was also bearable. It was manageable because of the relationships that I have been blessed with at home and here in Ecuador. Friends back home sent cards, personally delivered flowers to my parents (Tara and Kim you’re the best!), and offered to go be with my family. My parents, siblings,cousins, and Aunt Kath kept me updated and sent thoughtful messages. I was again reminded by just how important my loved ones are to me. New friends and family here were sending me thoughtful messages, taking me to Chiles because it reminds of us of back home (and because they have a 2×1 mojito special-Alex, you know me oh so well!) and just being there to chipper me up! Ecuador is only reinforcing the value that I am placing on relationships. Taking time out of no matter how busy your schedule is to write a friend, to skype your mom, or to just simply think a passing thought and send positive vibes their way.
My relationship with my Nan was always one that I truly valued. I knew she wasn’t a spring chicken and that her time here with our family was limited. Desperately uncertain on whether or not to come home, was replaced by feelings of peace when my mom reminded me that my Nan nearly commanded me not to dare come home for “something as silly as a funeral,” and that we both already had our unspoken goodbye with one another. The eve before I left, my Nan and I had one last date in our typical Nicholl gal style-wine, cookies, and Law&Order. Of course we both drank one too many, ate one too many, and watched an episode of Law&Order that we had seen one too many times. Mic(Nan’s nickname) gave me one of her favorite rosaries and we said what we needed to say. It really was the perfect ending to such wonderful, loving years spent together. Those memories and all the others are moments that I will forever treasure, and I know now more than ever that I want to nourish all the relationships in my life as I did with my beloved Micky.
Being away has had its challenges as expected, but although I don’t want to miss a thing, I also don’t want to miss out on all the opportunities in this crazy life. Family and friends have kept me in the loopedy loop and for that I am so thankful. I missed the birth of my two happy, healthy, and beautiful nieces Abby and Emmy but my sister has been incredible. She sends me daily videos, lots of pictures, and many updates. The girls “talk” to me and say how they can’t wait to meet their Aunt Angie, and boy oh boy how I can’t wait to meet them! I missed the engagement of one of the most beautiful and kindest women who has showed what true love really looks like and convinced me that not only does it exist, but that I will one day find it too. Congratulations Deanna and Laurie! Your love not only lit up my world, but it lights up the whole world! My soul sister Sarah graduated with her Masters in Public Health from one of the top universities in the country and although I couldn’t be there to hoot, holler, and kiss her she has kept me updated via pictures and skype. I am missing the wedding plans of two beautiful friends who will soon marry their soul mates, but yet again facebook, email, and skype lets me be part of the planning too! Britt and Chelle you will both be stunning. Have you had any model offers yet as you’ve been trying on dresses? Friends purchasing first homes-Congrats Chad and Britt, and missing my lovely Amy grow into her new role of motherhood are just some other things I am missing. Yes oh yes, although it does feel that I am missing many things, I also am keenly aware that life will start back up right where it left off. Lancaster County- keep on chugging along as Marty Henry would say and I will do the same. We will be reunited soon enough.
I don’t Want to Miss a Thing..
After hearing the persistent pleas from friends and family, I have decided to start a blog. Why not, right? That seems to be my saying lately, so why not start a blog?! Actually, I have been wanting to get this ball rollin’ but just needed a bit more motivation. If time keeps going by this quickly as has been the last 7 weeks, well I better get started on this thing. It’s crazy to think that we are half way through training….unbelievable. I will do my best to recap the first month and a half of training, then from here on out will do a monthly update. My brain seems to work best in a list form. When thinking about this blog, I was thinking how to comprehensively order that list. A theme came to mind when reflecting over the past month and a half, and that was how much we all have been challenged to get the hellll outta our comfort zone. The list I compiled is short in comparison with our reality here, but just to give you a little taste. Enjoy!
The first and most obvious would be the language. Learning a new language requires so much from the new, naïve, fearless victim. First, it requires that one must be vulnerable. Making mistakes as adults is something that we have been trained to avoid, but oh bebe in language learning it is essential. If I had a penny (yes a penny, not a dollar) for every mistake I have made in Spanish since our first arrival, I would be a rich woman! Opening up to be vulnerable is only half the battle, the other half is even more so pertinent to language learning. You must be able and willing to laugh at yourself. Some of my favorite mistakes have been switching the words embarrassed for pregnant, using some curse words by accident, saying I like someone in a sexual way rather than in the platonic sense and oh how the list goes on. Fortunately my pride does not get in the way, and I do find the humor in it all. However there are days when I just want to say no more Spanish! I want to stop having this feeling of incompetency with every single conversation, and I just want to speak English. Again luckily for me, my host family in Nayon is incredibly patient and they continually guide me in the right direction in many ways, but especially with the language. Also, I think just mustering up the courage to speak in a public setting has been one of the most challenging aspects for me. Knowing that the words soon to be coming from your mouth are sure to be wrong, pronounced incorrectly, and possibly conveyed with the wrong intonation, well it is a little scary. They say the only way is to learn from your mistakes, and well if that is the case then I sure have a whole lot to learn. Getting out of my comfort zone has not only challenged me mentally, but also physically! So let’s get physical, physical(That song is dedicated to you Johnny!)
Allllltiiiittttudde!! Nope not attitude(although, that is extremely important here) but altitude! My ears are surely getting a workout. A little car ride can have them working their little drums off…pop pop popping away as we make our way up a mountain to our destination. Likewise the descent back down has them creating beats of all sorts. My ears are not the only ones out of their comfort zone, the ol’ lungs are having one hell of a time on our daily runs. Much to my great excitement, we have created a sort of a running club at the training center. We do not claim to be champions, but let’s just say if we were to come back and do a relay in the states, well, ya’ll may want to watch out. Training in the altitude is no joke! Beef- I think we should’ve been doing run-a-lot here for all those years. Take the altitude difference on top of the fact that we are ascending mountains on the daily, and wow it is difficult. My lungs feel the burn, but being a crazy offspring runner from the Beef Rattle generation-I love it! I like it, I love it, and want more of it! To be honest, other than the fact that I have to leave my host family in Nayon, not being able to run in the sierras was a great disappoint when I found out I would be on the coast. I guess training in the 90degree blistering sun will have its benefits too. So to recap, language and altitude have forced me to escape the comfy zone, but there are many more. I will limit it to just one more, and as per tradition, I saved the best for last!
Dancing. Although I may look like them and am practically part of their family, I am not a Powl. I did not come out of the womb singing and dancing to Beyonce, nor did I win first place in talent shows that required dancing. Actually, quite the opposite in regards to all of those but especially the talent shows. Dearest Michelle LaMarca tried her darnest to teach me some dance moves for the 5th grade talent show, and what did I end up doing? My big role in our group dance—the log roll. Oh yea…hard to beat I know. I think I was actually a bit traumatized from that event, but here we are in Ecuador-a country that LIVES to dance! Don’t get me wrong, in my older age I have grown to love to dance as well. Butttt there are a few essentials I need to put on my dancing shoes: Alcohol. Probably the most essential ingredient for me tp get my boogy on. Shortly following that is I need one of my dancing buddies. The girls, Johnny, Jenna, Nicky, and Sarah LaMar help me feel less awkward out there shaking my tail feathers and of course none of them are here. A dimly light room also helps put me to ease(I obviously require a lot, I know). And last but not least is some good tunes that do NOT have choreographed dances to them. So what has my experience here with dancing looked like. Well, a serious lack of alcohol at all of these dancing functions. Some of which were not even during the night. Nope, in fact they were in pure day light, in the middle of a living room, having the gringos dance because they lost a card game. Pure torture. Ecuadorians just love to have the gringos dance…it is kind of like seeing your dog do a trick. I have done my best to follow these social norms here without feeling like an idiot, but it is definitely a work in progress. One solution is to always have a flask on hand, but not sure that is culturally appropriate either. It is fair to say that out of all the things we must endure while integrating into a new culture, if this is what pushes me most out of my comfort zone, then all will be alright.
Stay tuned for my next blog post! I have a group of six fierce and feisty ladies who will hold me accountable for keeping this blog updated. And if you’re lucky next post may include a video of the one and only Angela shaking what my momma gave me…
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