Sunday, June 22, 2008


The same thing happened to me when I lived in Northern Ireland that is happening to me now. I think it is the effect of small Catholic cities (leaving aside the politics of calling Derry Northern Ireland a catholic city, my Derry was Catholic) I started to develop nostalgia, nostalgia for my home, nostalgia for the south. For fiddles and barbecue, for those green humid evening in summer when the smell of mown grass and the sounds of crickets penetrate everywhere. Being in a place with a much richer and individual sense of place than my own makes me focus on the elements of my home that I do find unique, special, and comforting

And of course when I actually spent time there, I remember that some of this idealized loveliness isn´t quite what exists when you go there. Some of this North Carolina is what you get in the hollywood version of the South, and some of it is connected to the memories and sensations of childhood. Often what is noticeable about Greensboro when I spend time there is the homogeneity of it. The strip malls, the Starbucks, the fact that you have to drive everywhere.

Then there are the elderly gentleman talking to you about evolution in CVS. I am not sure quite what to call that. It´s not homogeneity. And its not the part of the South that I particularly like.

And so, considering where to spend the weeks or months after coming home, these thoughts come in to play.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Leaving and ending things is always an up and down. Last week I just wanted to be done with everything quickly, rip the bandaid off, and be on my way, but now I am settling in for the long goodbye, the despedidas, the nostalgia, the wierdness. This week at least I am embracing it and looking forward to lots of QT with everyone.

I took Aida and her kids and Marilyn and her baby to the hot springs in nearby BaƱos on Sunday. Her kids lasted much longer than us Peace Corps volunteers that went. We all flaked and went home early and the family stayed until the pools closed. I started to get really sad during the course of the afternoon. The event was planned as a despedida activity, and it signalled the real beginning of the end. In the course of marking your departure, you sometimes open up new and stronger bonds with the very people you are leaving. The kids were charming, Aida was super affectionate. I felt like something was starting and ending at the same time.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Ups and Down

In the midst of a complicated personal week, there are some good things.

1) The nomination of Barack Obama as the Democratic candidate. We are in for a long bumpy high stakes ride, but he has made it this far and my I am proud of him and proud of us.

2) In the domestic violence shelter where I give workshops on parenting, the social worker told me that she heard one of the mother´s I have worked with for over a year announcing to her son that she knew he was waiting for her to hit him, but she wasn´t going to. No matter what he said to her or how he behaved she was not going to hit him. She was patient, cool, and firm and the social worker thought that the workshops I have done played a role in giving her other options besides threats.

So. That´s the good stuff. The bad stuff is: waiting interminably to hear about jobs, interpersonal stuff gone all awry, conflicts of personal space, punctuality, cultural differences, feeling like a third wheel all the time here, a sensation that people in couples, people in love are just more entendible to everyone in a place like Cuenca, realizing that my way of being generous and open and available to everyone is in certain ways just another strategy to meet people to find friends, and not so generous after all. Here is trips me up especially, because it isn´t returned in the way I expect it, I get hurt and angry, and then everything is a mess.