17 June 2010

i sat at the table in the cafe listening to yet another conversation of which i understood three sentences. i tried to make my flight swiftly and painlessly but ended up having to talk to the same stupid boys who also ask stupid questions and make stupid statements implying that they're going to pay me a house visit later. i finally escaped my the clutches of my not so caring friend and made it to where the path to my house meets the road, and i promptly slipped on the wet grass and fell directly into the eight inch rut between the concrete and the end of the walkway. i managed a quick "fuck", then let a few tears out. just lay here, i thought. at least now you have a reason to cry.

as i finally made it to the safety of my house and turned the key in the darkness i thought, how long do i have to feel this utterly incompetent? and after two years of consistently feeling inadequate, will i be a better person for having survived?

05 June 2010

goodbyes, hellos

Back in the winter an essay contest was held amongst the PC Bulgaria volunteers. The topic was migration, which sent me reeling back to my days at American U, specifically sitting in the small Honors room of the International Studies building. I was enrolled in an undergrad/grad seminar on the same topic. The grad students each had really in-depth theories and concepts, and I was so intimidated that I felt as if most of it flew over the top of my head. One girl was obsessed with biogenics and the ability to quantify things like fingerprints and the configuration of irises. We spent a lot of time talking about remittances. We covered economic hardship, war and political exile, we talked a lot about Cuba. In January when I received that prompt-- Immigration as it relates to Bulgaria-- I flashed back to that class and thought, why didn't you listen better??

I could never get a good grip on International theory, because I was always looking for the human side of it. In college I had friends from Slovakia who worked in Ocean City in the summers; I had worked with a few Guatemalan men at a pizza shop in high school. They were my idea of immigration. So when it came time to formulate some thesis for this contest, I wrote about what I understood- the people who have come in and out of my life as a result of international migratory patterns.

The essay was written in February, and after a few cold nights of sitting at my computer and reading and re-reading, it was finished. I tried to tone down my personal, i.e. fraternizing experiences, but the truth was I was writing about the boys in my village, who have ebbed and flowed back and forth between here and Paris, leaving me in their wake. When I met each of them they had already worked in France for several years, making their personal context more French. When the days came for them to leave, I was sad, but I knew it had to be. It was normal for them; it made sense.

Recently there have been rumours of when they will be coming home, for the summer holiday, or for Ramazan Bayram (Eid el-Fitr) in August, and the village has been lowly buzzing in anticipation. But the other day I got news that I simply was not expecting. One of our recent high school graduates will be leaving any day now to go to Paris and start working.
When I heard I was surprised and immediately saddened. This kid is the one you see rolling around the streets, always in the cafe, always ready to dance or make you laugh. He is my village. Now his time has come, and he must leave us all behind and start a new life far away. His departure means much more to me than any of the other boys. He is a baby taking his first few steps out into this world, alone. He has no idea what awaits him, but he has no choice but to move forward, which inevitably means moving away.

In case you're interested, here is my essay. I won the contest, by the way.