16 June 2009

tell it like you still believe.

I will always envy those who can dance like no one's watching even when they're well aware someone is (although life here has brought me much closer to a genuine ability to overlook what others think of me). I love those who play instruments as thought they've filled a stadium, even when the stadium is a pub the size of a living room filled with friends. I wish I could sing. I like country music because it reminds me of home and the people who taught me to appreciate the South. Flaws and deep-rooted social problems aside, I wouldn't trade my origins for anything. I completely reject the notion of "out of sight, out of mind" - absence really does make the heart grow fonder. This applies to everything from people to traffic laws to fried mozzarella. I don't think race should matter. Ever. I'll never again criticize consumer culture because it means the freedom to choose, and I'd rather face seemingly absurd choices than lose the ability to control my own life. The word "firenji" (or nech or kayo, its other incarnations) invokes in me the same visceral reaction a lot of people have to the word "cunt." I'll never find it quaintly amusing. Old couples who still hold hands and dance together give me hope that maybe love really can last forever, despite all the evidence to the contrary. I believe the creation of religion has been mankind's tragic flaw.

"I want the cultures of the world to blow freely through my house, but I refuse to be swept off my feet by any." - M. Gandhi

I have exactly two photos from my Peace Corps experience in which all of the subjects are still volunteers. This, coupled with yesterday's t-minus five month countdown (!), has left me contemplative. This honestly has been "the toughest job I'll ever love," emphasis on the job aspect. A 50% attrition rate is considered acceptable (although hardly desirable) for a first year program. We're at 55% and quite possibly still falling. Ethiopia's been a valuable experience, but I couldn't live here forever. I don't want to live in the ex-pat Addis bubble, driving between enclaves of Western culture while turning a blind eye to the 80 million people in this country, but neither can I make a life of being a spectacle in a small town. I'm an American. A curiously worldly and restless one, but I know where home is. Above all else, I treasure the uncompromising American individualism that I think defines my country more than any other single trait. I miss just being Jessica, without that having to represent any greater notion of white or female or liberal or young or any other adjective I'd choose to describe myself. The people who've remembered that I'm here and taken the time to keep in touch have done more than they'll ever realize to keep me sane. I'll never be able to repay you or even make you fully understand how much that has meant to me.

On a lighter note, I've been watching Scrubs and I think I'm a little bit in love with Zach Braff. My landlord built a souk next to our compound. Now we all know where I won't be buying my household supplies. The fabled bagel shop in Addis really does exist and it's delicious. And it only took us two hours to find it (which is honestly impressive in a town with no street names or numbers).

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