- Posted July 13, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Photo essays: Your stories in pictures
Here We Go Again!
Over three years ago, I came to Romania to volunteer with the Peace Corps. It was a daunting task to even begin to comprehend, but nothing was more difficult that packing up my entire life-people included-to go abroad with an airline maximum of 100 lbs. and a lightweight carry-on bag as a security blanket. Knowing it would be 27 more months at minimum before I'd see familiar smiling faces and the beautiful places I knew, I took my stuffed black sheep, that which I'd bought expressly to come along with me on this journey, as sort of a flat Stanley character, but better, since he was soft and cuddly and would get me through the tough moments.
Sure enough, there were those, and my black sheep got cried into when friends and family passed away, was used as a support pillow on train after train, got show-and -telléd incessantly in classes which I will never forget teaching, and through it all, his presence was a Godsend. Once again, as I prepare to leave Romania, I cannot leave him behind, nor will I sacrifice the things which are special to me, those cards and letters, postcards and stamps, gifts and photos, from home and from the children and families here in this amazing country.
As before, I stressed out over this packing thing and night after night, week after week, slowly but surely, I purged and re-purged, gave away, threw away, tore up, crumpled, rolled, photographed, packed up, condensed, downsized, reorganized and repacked- again, again and again. It's not easy to fit two years worth of stuff into two pieces of luggage and it always drives me nuts when I have to consider what to leave and what to take. Back in America, this was a three week ordeal and it's no different here. It's difficult enough to change everything you know to live in a new and foreign environment, not having the things which are yours, your own bed to sleep in, the foods which you enjoy the most, your familiar places, your routine, your conveniences, your greatest friends, your family, etc. etc. Ask anybody whose done this, been in the Peace Corps and they will tell you the same. As Tom Hanks said in A League of Their Own, "Sure it's hard, it's supposed to be hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it."
Geting back to this packing thing: I suppose it's a way to combat the anxiety and feelings about leaving and arriving, coming and going, saying goodbyes and anticipating new things, which manifests itself in the packing nightmares. But as you see, I've got it all under control.
First I had three full rooms. Four friends and a second hand shop later, I'd gotten it down to nine boxes, two suitcases and two closets. The cupboards were bare, the drawers emptied and everything that could go somewhere else, did. After a week teaching camp in denial among the serenity of the Harghita countryside, I returned to the ugly chore of preparing to go on to my next assignment, gearing myself up to be ruthless again, whittling it down to now six boxes and one suitcase.
I still have a bit to go, but my stuffed Lambie is on his way to the Kingdom of Tonga with me (he has priority seating in my bag!) and I won't leave behind anything I really need...except the wonderful Romanian and Hungarian friendships which I will cherish until the next time we can meet again. So a long train ride and five airplanes later, I will arrive in Tongatapu, Tonga, with the clothes on my back, one large filled-to-the-brim suitcase (most definately under fifty lbs.), my passport of course, and a hefty, but stylish, purse filled with wishes for a great run there in the South Pacific. Have guts, will travel, that's what I say!