Everyone has a time in their life they view as a crossroad. Sometimes you can see it as it's happening, and you're able to choose one way or another. Other times you may not realize you're there until you look back, and see what a turning point it really was. This week, write about a time you view as a marker in your life; a distinct place where things changed, for better or worse.
July 11, 2012 started off just like any other morning at summer camp. with a cup of blueberry coffee in hand i turned the knob on the masterlock and with a forceful yank unlocked the barn door to the arts + crafts den. our administrative meetings were held just below the dining hall in the arts + crafts room. we huddled around to talk about the days events and eventually headed up to breakfast. after i'd finished my french toast i went back to my cabin, got ready for the day and walked to first period. in between first and second period i headed up to the office to check the mail and was handed a very large envelope with a return address marked: peace corps.
i remember knowing that the envelope held my future ... for the next two years, anyway. that no matter what it said i was going to some far off land that i had never been to ... and in this case, never heard of. and i remember thinking about how this moment wasn't something i wanted to do alone - how it was equal parts scary and exciting and how i wanted to be with people when i opened the envelope revealing where i was headed in a mere two months.
opening the door to the back of the office i weaved my way behind the dining hall to the theater where i met up with one my best friends, michael (who is also the theater director at camp). he knew that i'd been waiting for the envelope and how exciting/scary it was. i handed it over to him (unopened) and went back down to the arts + crafts room to continue teaching about friendship bracelets.
at lunch michael showed up with the envelope and ten other friends joined us around a table. he handed me the parcel and i opened it carefully. i pulled out the cover letter and read: congratulations you have been selected to serve in the kingdom of tonga. (or something like that) i yelled something like "i'm going to.... tonga!" and everyone cheered (i'm pretty sure half of us thought that tonga was located in africa).
i still remember the love i felt in the dining hall that day - the hugs, the "way to go"s, the "i promise to write you"s and the "you're gonna do great"s. and as i sat there taking in the magnitude of the moment, knowing that i was in the process of checking off another goal in my life, i realized that i was never going to be the same. and i knew that from then on there would be "before peace corps" mandy and "post peace corps" mandy. i know this sounds goofy (and i hope it doesn't sounds selfish), but i felt then that this adventure was going to really change me. like rock my world type change. in the moment it felt like i was inching closer to jumping off a cliff into completely new territory wearing a parachute that i had designed that i wasn't sure was going to work properly. i had prepared for this for months, i had a positive attitude and i was ready.
fast forward 19 months and here i sit: sweaty tomato face, in front of a rusty metal fan. i know that this adventure has changed me - that my parachute not only worked but has made this ride extra fun. this journey has made me more confident and at the same time it has humbled me too. it's made me excited and also very scared. it's given me answers to questions i didn't know i had. it's made me mature in areas that i needed to mature in and remind me of the importance of childhood wonder. it's helped me to expand my love of service and the joy found in teaching. it's given me clarity and muddled some stuff up too. and i'm so thankful for it all.
inching closer to the peace corps finish line each day, i'm reminded more of that moment in the dining hall in maine. how i wish i could hug the mandy that sat at that wooden table with ten of her best friends and whispered in her ear, "don't be scared. this is going to be wonderful". because it is. it's absolutely wonderful.
The idea for this blog series comes from this wonderful blog.