Thursday, July 15, 2010

After One Week

If anyone’s been keeping up with the photos on Face Book, I’m sure it looks like I am living the vacationers life.  And most days I find myself taken like a tourist with something unique that would slip past the eye of someone who walks past the same thing every day.  (Ex: See photo of pepper.) I have to do that to keep things interesting, to keep my mind stimulated.  
But when I started walking toward the stone bridge to get to the other side and didn’t think to stop and take another picture--“the light looks different today,” I usually think--then I know something has changed. 
I found myself wondering what I am doing here.  Don’t misunderstand me.  I used to ask myself that question most days when I was here for Peace Corps and the English teachers at work told me I was doing fine when I was doing nothing but keeping out of their way.  But now the emphasis is different.  Not exactly on I or doing, and not on here.  Here is wherever you are and I definitely chose here.  Here cannot be avoided--you are always somewhere.  But people ask if I am working here or whatever.  At first I said “vacation.”  But how did that explain the language?  “I used to work here.”  And immediately whoever I was in conversation with could tell I loved the place enough to return, especially after so many years.  
Before I left the US, before work had let out for the summer, Anton had said, “Wow, so you’re like, going to be living there.”  And after a week, I am not on a vacation anymore.  Not a typical vacation anyway.  I am on my second antiperspirant, my fourth bar of soap, my third carton of orange juice, and am wondering why I haven’t bought more groceries.  I think that’s all a sign of living somewhere and not just visiting or sight seeing.  Right?
There is still an urge to “use” my time and go out and see things that a tourist should see, and there’s a slight anxiety that I’ll get back to the US and have to explain how I didn’t go to Ohrid or how I didn’t walk ten miles everyday.  Indeed, I think my photo taking is slowing down, and I am not completely entranced every time I walk by a skara and smell kebapi grilling.  Am I starting to live here?  My time will definitely be too long to just be a tourist on vacation, but also too short to be a resident.  
What am I doing here?  Emphasis on am, not on here, or I, or doing.  I know I am writing and rewriting.  I know I used to be a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kochani for dve godini...i uchev Makedonski za tri meseci vo Skopje, but I am not exactly a Volunteer anymore.  Certainly that is in my DNA like my hair color or my fingerprints, but can I still claim that status?  When I say I am writing, I say that I am kind of a writer, but people ask about being published--because that validates a person as a serious, recognized writer and not some kind of hobbyist--I have no good answer.  I guess I am just here.  I have to be somewhere.  The transcendentalist side of me wants to be alright with that, for that to be enough.  Maybe for now, I will have to accept that and wait to see what emerges next.

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