9-9 Too Many Goodbyes

Where is everyone going?

A lot of the Close of Service conference was dedicated to purely practical things like resumes, job hunting and health insurance but we spent a lot of time talking about feelings. I am not a big fan of talking about feelings but I’m about to give it another shot on the blog.

Peace Corps service is full of transience and transience means goodbyes. Two years ago, I said goodbye to friends and family and jumped on a plane bound for Vanuatu. It was hard to say goodbye but it was a goodbye that was more like a see-you-later. I knew I’d be coming home, someday. I knew I would see most or all of the people I was leaving again. I knew I could stay in touch through phone calls and emails and the wonders of facebook. I was still sad.
I spent 2 months in training and made friends with the other volunteers and my family in Epau. Training ended and I said goodbye to those friends and new family and left for Pentecost. Even those goodbyes were just see-you-laters. The people I trained with would be in Vanuatu with me for two years. We would cross paths in Vila, visit each other’s islands and see each other at CoS. My Epau family, too would be around. I’ve run into them almost every trip to Vila and gone to visit twice.
In October last year, the group of PCVs who was here when we arrived started leaving. Those goodbyes were harder. I still keep tabs on them on facebook or through the occasional email. I will probably see some of them when I return to the US but a lot of those moments were truly goodbye.
This week and more than anything this evening, will be goodbyes and see-you-laters that I don’t want to say. When I go back to Pentecost tomorrow, I won’t return to Vila until about half of my incoming group has returned to the US. I know I’ll stay in touch but it isn’t the same as saying, “I’ll see you two months.” It will never be the same as this experience we’ve shared, here and now.
In six weeks, I move from Pentecost to Vila. Those are the goodbyes that will break my heart. I know that despite my best efforts, I will not stay in touch with most people on the island. Phone numbers change as often as underwear and there is no internet. I would try to send a letter but the literacy rate is almost as low as the chances of the letter actually getting through. I will live in Vila and hopefully return to Pentecost at least once to visit, so maybe the goodbyes won’t be the end. I will tell myself that, anyway.
I’m tired of saying goodbye and I’ve barely started. I can only wish all the best to my PCV buddies in whatever their next adventures.

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