“So we just ignore the questions and get on with our lives.”- This American Life

Yesterday was my Dad’s retirement ceremony.

Because he prefers privacy, I’ll refrain from mentioning his work. Although if you’ve known me for any length of time, it shouldn’t be difficult to figure out.

Thanks to the wonders of Skype and a staff member whose job it was to hold the iPad while the ceremony was going on, I was able to virtually attend. I chatted briefly with many family members, got acquainted with the ‘big wigs,’ and most importantly listened to my Dad give his speech.

My Dad devoted 32 years to his work, a whole 9 years longer than I’ve even been alive. So as much as this decision is the end of an era for him, it’s the end of an era for myself and my family as well.

Our whole lives have revolved around my Dad’s work. Through the good times, bad times, and all the times my Dad referred to our family as ‘The Clampett’s.’ In many ways so much of how I view the world, people, and adversity have been shaped by some extension through my Dad’s career. I’d even make the case that I ended up in the Peace Corps because of certain facets of his work.

It’s difficult to explain all of this without disclosing the nature of his job, but I’ll say this: A huge part of my identity is wrapped up in his work. So even though his retirement will mean less stress, more time for himself, and hopefully a real commitment to get his health in check, I’m a bit sad. I guess I never really thought about how I’d feel when this day would finally come.

I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions lately. Ironically, while cleaning up my ‘dressing room’ (a fancy term for the room I store all my clothes in) I found a folded up piece of paper the Peace Corps had given us awhile back. Cycle of Vulnerability and Adjustment. I’m cresting almost 11 months here in Morocco and as much as I hate to admit it, the Peace Corps is pretty spot on about my feelings.

Fitting in. Establishing a routine. Sadness. Feeling competent.Withdrawal. Disapointment. Connections. Mastery of aloneness. And my personal favorite, beginning to feel normal.

But sometimes the reality of my situation and my life here strikes me. (You might have read most of the following if we’re Facebook friends)

Maybe it’s sitting on the souk bus for 12 hours on my way back home. The only foreigner on the bus. The Quran blaring in the background. Or maybe it’s at the GLOW camp I just worked at. Listening to chants and drums, being led in circles, 4 days of almost non-stop Darija. Or it’s when I ‘walk to work’ and cut across the rocky, dirt path careful to avoid the grazing sheep and goats.

Sometimes I wonder, where the hell am I? And how did I get here?

And more importantly, what am I doing here?

A cry for purpose if you will.

But I’m beginning to realize through my own volition and with some help from an episode of This American Life, that maybe having a purpose or some connection to a  greater identity isn’t what’s important. Living is.

Living, being, breathing, enjoying, basking, feeling, existing. Going through life not necessarily having all the answers and being okay with that. Living in spite of it all. Living anyway.

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Filed under Life, Musings, Peace Corps

4 responses to ““So we just ignore the questions and get on with our lives.”- This American Life

  1. Tina

    You have a very loving family………

  2. Shauna Steadman

    Mel, some of the things you will love about Morocco won’t be clear to you until you come back from Morocco. There is another Morrocan moment just around the corner – I promise it will come! Loneliness is real, feeling frustrated in your job is real, wondering “What the Hell am I doing here ”
    – also real. Wait for your moment – you are making the right choices – Peace Corps is the most valuable work you will ever do. Shauna in Charleston

    • postgradmel

      Thanks for your words of wisdom Shauna! This post doesn’t really reflect my frustration with my work (things are surprisingly going pretty well for the most part!) but more pure bewilderment at my current set of circumstances. The fact that I find my life so amusing and sometimes so ridiculous that I wonder, ‘is this really my life?’ Nonetheless, I’m ebbing and flowing along. P.S.- Charleston, SC? I love it there! Haven’t been since I was a kid!

  3. Shauna Steadman

    Hi Mel,
    every time I open your blog, I get a few tears in my eyes and a hard lump in my throat. I am soooo glad that I know Morocco and had opportunity to live and work with some of the world’s most amazing people,. People I love with the very pump of my heart. I am 72 and have some health issues or I would go back.
    I now live in Charleston West Virginia. Also a third world country. I am here supporting my son in his last months in med school – his second career. I am restoring an Arts and Crafts Bungalow for profit to go against his loans. I have another son in Seattle. He is in the film industry. I may settle there in a year or so.
    Me and a friend, also a Morrocan volunteer, have just started an organization of WVRPCV’s here. A lot of work. We are incorporated, (501)c3 so we can start collecting funds to help PCV’s with their projects
    .Bismillah dear heart, you are amazing!
    Shauna Steadman RPCV?Morocco 03-05

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