The good and the bad
Trip Start Jun 14, 2004
27Trip End Jul 30, 2006
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I flew to the states on April 14th to visit my father in Wilmington, North Carolina. Last November I found out that he was diagnosed with brain cancer, which is a difficult and intense thing to deal with when you are what feels like a million miles away. As the months progressed from when I found out, my father's health began to decline rapidly. My brother's and I decided we would all go together to see him. The time I spent there was amazing. I am so grateful I got to spend the time I did with my father, time when he was still coherent and conscious. Four days later, the day I was supposed to leave, my father passed away. There is nothing I can say that will do justice to the way I felt or feel about it. Only that it makes my heart very sad and sometimes I still catch my breath when I realize again that he is really gone.
But as that cliché saying goes, after every storm there is a rainbow or whatever, good things did come out of that trip. I was able to spend twelve days with my brothers, my sister-in-laws, and the most fantastic nephew ever, Aidan. And the thing is, I got to REALLY spend time with them. We went to the beach, went out to dinner or just hung out at my brother Tay's house watching movies. I think about this time often here in Belize. It was a time when I needed my brothers the most and they were there for me. We were all there for each other.
Pickles. Pickles, pickles, pickles. Baby dill, dill spears, bread and butter, sweet, I couldn't get enough of them. Krispy Kremes, Doritos, Pepridge Farms Milano cookies, Cape Cod chips, SANDWICHES. Marble rye bread, ice cream, hushpuppies and places where everything on the menu is fried (although now that I think about it, that aspect is quite similar to Belize). Salads, crab cakes, wine, sam adams oh how I love you. Honey Dew and strawberries, kalamati olives, muenster cheese, swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, provolone cheese. Grocery stores larger than I ever remembered. Candy that hasn't already melted in its package. Being amazed at the size of things. Feeling like a kid who has stepped into Disney world, wide eyed and full of wonderment. Places that are white and clean and airconditioned. Automatic toilets that flush themselves three times before you even sit down, doors that open without you touching them, those things that you use if you don't feel like walking. Cell phones. New cars, new clothes, people with pretty shiny hair and perfect nails. The desire for Perfection. I had forgotten about that emotion.
Impatience. With driving, with waiting in line, and more importantly with me: when I can't figure out how to work the credit card thing at the cashier, when I take too long in a store (it came to the point where my brothers wouldn't let me go in a store alone because I would be in there for an hour), when I take too long to get ready, when I can't make a decision RIGHT NOW, when im amazed at television and when im disgusted by it, when im amazed at all the food and repulsed by the waste.
The surprising and a little scary realization that I am not the same person that I was when I left. My brothers kept teasing that I had turned into a hippie with my long flowy skirts, unshaved legs. No make up, no cute bags, no cute shoes, no hair products, no trendy jewelry, no Michael Kors perfume. And I guess the thing that surprised me the most was that I started to feel bad about myself. I started to be conscious of the fact that people look at me and judge me by what I wear and how I look. I felt like a bum wearing the clothes that I felt good in when I wore them in Belize.
But enough of that. I guess it comes down to me realizing that when I return to the states for good there will be things waiting for me that I look forward to like my family and friends, and things waiting for me that make me cringe.
Just in case any of you are wondering . . . Im happy here. Really Happy. My friends are amazing and here for me when I need them. A few good things:
I was interviewed for a television program. I know a lady who produces the show uncommon comments which is aired on the Cayo television channel. She asked me if I would be willing to be interviewed at my house about my Peace Corps experience. The day of the shooting was really fun. There were five volunteers all together including myself and we just talked. About our experiences, our jobs, our thoughts on Belize. It was really nice. Unfortunately I couldn't watch it when it aired because I was returning from Belize City from a conference, but im going to get it on DVD.
A fellow Peace Corps volunteers and good friend of mine, Tim O'Malley is leaving in a month or so because he's done. But that's not the point of this story. The point is that one of his last projects is to record the rhythms of the garifuna culture. The garifuna culture is one here in Belize whose descendents originated from Africa and brought to the Carribbean. Their culture is heavily influenced by drumming and it accompanies any major ceremony. Tim asked me if he could shoot it at my house, to which I of course said yes. Two days ago I had two amazing drummers at my house and Andy Palacio, a very well known Garifuna artist in Belize. It was crazy cool.
I love my work. I got the highest compliment the other day when I was doing a session on sexuality for a high school class. At the end of the class a girl said to me, "miss, this class was hype." To which I said, "hype? What?" "Miss, like, hype. It wasn't boring at all." I was touched.