Thursday, January 31, 2013

Because you think you know what went wrong

I have been blessed to grow up spending every summer in heaven.  My great grandfather bought a place in Maine long ago, and my grandmother, my mother, and I have all enjoyed beautiful crisp summers on a lake in Maine.  I spent my days covering my fingers in worm poop and for lack of a better term "death juice" as I speared them on the ends of hooks and went fishing off the dock with my cousins.  I spent afternoons roasting under the sun on our clay tennis court, trying to get that damn ball over the net and keep up with my older brothers.  I played house in what used to be the truck storage space in the last century.  Perhaps most memorable, was "dock time", which we spent diving around, playing "rickety rockety" with an inner tube, putting on masks and exploring what was essentially just rocks and gush (but we thought was fascinating), and enjoying all manner of boat/water sport energetically overseen by my crazy Auntie Sare.  We'd going "bicing", which was essentially three or more cousins piled on an old windsurfing board being dragged behind the boat using a waterski rope... all the fun was in falling off.  We went tubing and participated in whatever random water sport my little cousin had created (he really tried being dragged in all manner of strange objects behind the boat).  The classic go-to was waterskiing.  Auntie Sare can waterski like no one you've ever met, and her kids somehow were passed that ability.  My brothers were awesome at it too.  For whatever reason, probably somehow related to the fact that my BMI has not really ever been "normal" or "healthy", I always sucked at waterskiing.  I would go up there every summer, determined that this year would BE THE YEAR! And spend my days face planting, crashing, dragging, and generally ingesting far too much lake water.  Yet, I saw that everyone else could do it, so I figured I could do it too.  So I persevered.  I put on that wet dripping life jacket and shoved my feet into the rubber of the waterski, declared confidently to my aunt that I was, indeed, "ready", and held on for dear life...until I face-planted and had to let go, or my ski popped off, or I leaned too far to the right, or I leaned too far back, all ending it a big watery crash.  Eventually, the day finally came when I got up and I would hold on in utter terror to the rope, frozen in whatever position I had gotten up in, and just wait for it to end, praying I didn't some how end up crashing and not being able to get up again...thus having to be wedgie grabbed and dragged into the boat and shamefully driven back to the dock.   But of course I did fall.  I would usually fall, and it would hurt more than when I was just trying to get up (i was going faster...) and I dreaded the "what happened?" question that all my cousins and siblings would ask when I got back to the dock, cold, dripping, and still spitting up lake water.  What would I do the next day?  Try again.  The next summer? Try again...

Where is this all going? 

I've decided that Peace Corps service is like trying to learn to waterski.  When you first start, you're nervous but you see everyone around you can do it so you figure you've just got to keep trying.  Getting up, or getting going in Peace Corps is so hard.  You stumble and fall, you drown a little bit, you crash, you sort of get dragged along in it, you face plant, your ski pops off, and yet you just keep trying.  Eventually, one day, you'll feel like you finally got up, you finally "are doing it", and you'll just sort of freeze there, trying to figure out how you got to that spot and how to maintain it, terrified it will some how mess up and you'll face plant again.  You do fall, inevitably, and it hurts way more than it did when you were just getting going because you THOUGHT you had it, but you're not sure you can get it again, but you're determined to try.  So you try, and you suck water and get dragged but eventually you get up again, but then you get comfortable, and you lean too far and you fall flat on your back and it hurts like hell, but you try not to cry because you don't want anyone to know how much it hurt.  But you think you know what went wrong, so you try again...

Thus is Peace Corps.  You get smacked in the face, pushed over, knocked over, beaten, and you're tired, so tired, but you get back up because you have to and you think you know how to do it right this time. 

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