Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Picking Back Up

I'm back. As in settled. As in home, happy, and filled with purpose. I admit: the journey took much longer than I thought I would. In fact, sometimes I look around me and conceive of a different time and place where I still exist. I often feel like I'll wake up from some elaborate day dream I'm having. My eyes will snap to and there I'll be: on the cliff-side in Lima, feet dangerously close to the edge, peering past the ocean towards the skyline. What have I been doing? You might have heard some of it, but nowhere near enough to tell the full story.

Let's see, I came home at the end of August. I was home three short weeks. Long enough to move into a new house, greet all my old friends, tell everyone how much I missed them, and play some frisbee. Then I left for Ghost Ranch to debrief about my experience as a YAV. Through copious worksheets I came to understand my experience was only the tip of the iceberg. Hiking through box canyons surrounded by my fellow YAVs talking about what we felt we learned to cope just a little bit more. During the debriefing I experienced my very own prejudices and realized just how deeply my own privilege ran. I felt extremely defeated. How do you complain about privilege when that is, in and of itself, a privilege? I'm glad my YAV friends were there. They helped pick me up, and I returned home with a new outlook on life.

Then, after twelve hours back in Dallas I hit the road again. I served as a translator for Pastor Luis Miguel Fernando. He's a Colombian pastor for the Presbyterian church in Bogota. He helped broker a peace deal between the guerilla army (the FARC) and the government. We toured Phoenix, AZ as well as Knoxville, TN and finishing in Wausau, WI. It was a fantastic job! I learned so much about the country I returned to. I learned about the armed conflict in Colombia. I made a new life-long friend in the Pastor. It was a fantastic way to taste the Presbyterian church outside of Texas. While I generally enjoyed myself the work of translating proved exhausting and by the end of the trip I missed my home.

Following the adventures around the US I settled back home. That's when the real existential crisis set in. I now had to find employment. I had to purchase a car. I moved into this new house with several roommates and no plan on paying rent or utilities or groceries. Well, I found work as a server at The Rustic. It's this country bar and grill. I've been serving there for four months now. After I found employment I managed to get a car loan to purchase a car. I did that for several months and attempted to normalize my life.

It's only just now, after being home for seven months can I say I feel remotely at home. Things are different for me. I'm not a college student like my roommates so we run on different schedules. I prioritize my career over many things. I can't quite seem to get a date. More importantly my outlook has equalized a bit. Allow me to explain.

In YAV we talk about privilege. How deep it runs. How we can utilize it to our advantage. How the work we do isn't impactful on anyone other than ourselves. We explain the value of the experience. After a year of learning the true boundaries of my privilege (and a painful reminder one time at Ghost Ranch) I see all the privileges everyone me exploits on a day-to-day basis. I found myself retracting from friends who have no idea the damage they're doing. I could feel the microagressions. I could see all the little things happening around me that demonstrated a power dynamic. What could I say? It was an oddly helpless feeling. Instead I felt myself sinking into the old traps of life-before-YAV. Especially after working in a restaurant. A LOT of filters I had thoughtfully created were slowly removed while I worked there. So now I'm a bit lost.

This time, I'm okay with being lost. I just worked my first professional film set. I actually kinda knew what I was doing. I'm a generally functioning adult. I've got aspirations and plans. I find ways to feel fulfilled. I still haven't exactly scored the date I was looking for, but there's still time.

Don't expect much from this blog anymore. I intend to write, but I don't intend to edit. It's just- I still have stories to tell. Often they relate back to my YAV year. Sometimes they don't. Read on, if you like. The adventures get much more exciting and equally mundane from here on out.