Packing up, coming home, and moving on.
There comes a time when even the most transient of souls yearns for a blissfully (if not temporarily) sedentary existence. I wanted my flea-free bed, my unstained clothes, my (relatively) un-stinky shoes, and even the uneventful comfort and order of Tulsa, Oklahoma. But, as I thought about returning to life back home, I was incredibly, though expectedly, sad.
There is something truly intoxicating about a life on the road – a life unbound by most responsibilities, a life dictated by whim and freewill... (until the money runs out, anyway.) But money aside, it is indubitable that exploration touches a deeply passionate and primal part of the human soul – it peaks curiosities, stirs intellect, strengthens the spirit, tickles the senses, and evokes the most incredible emotions. Simultaneously taxing and relaxing…carefree and careful...travel, as eloquently stated by Miriam Beard, is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. Therefore, in my end – the end of my internship, my summer, my journey – is my beginning.
I packed up my things – tucking evil eyes and textiles between one-too-many bottles of Bulgarian wine – crumpled under the weight of my pack, and said goodbye to Sofia. Our love/hate relationship had blossomed into full-on mutual respect, and I was mildly devastated to leave her just as we were becoming truly acquainted. I promised to return, but in my heart I knew it could be years…I think she understood. Sofia, and Bulgaria as a whole, taught me wonderful things: patience in the face of the Cyrillic alphabet, tolerance for bureaucracy and the resulting (ironic) chaos, understanding of the challenges faced by a post-Soviet “almost-Western” country, compassion for victims of the most unimaginable crimes, and admiration for a people unlike any other – quirky, careful, but absolutely gracious. And the wine…oh, the wine! Those Bulgarians certainly know how to drink with style.
My journey through Europe served as a fascinating complement and contrast (an appropriate contradiction) to my journeys through India and Africa. My internship – though certainly maddening at times – helped me to clarify my place in the world of humanitarian work. My summer, though only a speck in the (hopefully) grand timeline of my life – had a tremendous effect on my heart, my soul, and my personal aspirations. Now, having returned to my fairly-flea-free reality, I must decide how to move on with these deeply and permanently changed ideas of living.
So, moving on in the most literal of senses, I’ll be packing off to Washington, DC in about two weeks. Through and incredible stroke of luck, I am starting an extremely (and wonderfully!) demanding internship with the crisis response department of Amnesty International. Simultaneously, I’ll be starting my Masters – with the eventual goal of having a joint JD/MA in international politics/human rights. Yikes. I’m missing the beaches of Europe already. I am excited, completely terrified, but confident I’ve made the right decisions, and that I will, in fact, survive. I will use my patience, my tolerence for bureaucracy, my understanding, and my human compassion to contribute something, anything positive to this world. But for now, and in the near future, when I’m drowning in textbooks and twitching with caffeine, I’ll think fondly of my summer – the chaotic narcotic of bizarre, beautiful, Bulgaria.