That’s how long I have left in Alto Molócuè.
I have spent the last several days painfully processing my upcoming departure. I’ve started counting my “lasts”—last lesson plan, last school meeting, last dinner with my sitemate. And, I’ve started saying goodbye to people that I care about: tears welling up in my eyes as they say, “Maybe you’ll come back to visit,” even though we both know that we may never see each other again.
For as long as I can remember, I have kept a journal. I’ve always used writing as a way of working through my thoughts, as a way of understanding what I’m feeling and why, by keeping a conversation with myself. When blogging has been hard in Peace Corps, and I didn’t know how to publicly share my experience, I’ve continued my journal. Yesterday morning, I sat down to write, to process the goodbyes and the glass case of emotion in which I’m currently trapped, and I couldn’t. For the first time in my life, I am at a loss for words.
I have been thinking a lot recently about the process of saying goodbye when I left for Mozambique over two years ago. I rented out space in a bar on the Lower East Side, where all my college friends bought me drinks and said they couldn’t wait to hear all my stories from Moz. I ordered pizza (fine, I’ll be honest, it was like four pizzas and also garlic sticks) and watched a marathon of The Simpsons with a close friend about to make his own big move; we talked about how our lives might look in 2016. I stayed up late drinking wine and binge-watching Breaking Bad with my mom, confiding in her that I was scared, while she reassured me that I would do great things and that she couldn’t wait to see me shine.
In all of those cases, and so many more, we talked about coming back together. Two years seemed so long when I was 22, and still feels long at 25, but two years will pass. Now, saying goodbye to Mozambique, I have no idea if I will come back (or, if I do come back, if I’ll get to see all the people who have meant so much to me). Two years is hard, but what is that compared to a lifetime?
This morning I re-read my very first blog post. I wrote that I was “standing right on the edge of this journey, so close to what always seemed so far.” More than two years later, I find myself in a similar position—on the brink of what often seemed unachievable. In my dreams of being joining Peace Corps, I could always imagine leaving for my service, but I could never imagine coming home.
I spend my days trying to memorize every detail of my life here—the smell of laundry drying in the sun, the brightness of the full moon that renders my headlamp unnecessary, the sound of my foster mom’s laugh. I am trying, in vain, to cling to all the things about Mozambique that I have loved, hated, and struggled with over the course of my time here. I am trying to come to terms with the work I have done, knowing that “though it may be incomplete, it is a beginning, a step along the way.”
I am leaving Alto Molócuè more humbled and more grateful than I ever thought possible. I am leaving without words for all that I feel and have felt here. I am leaving with a heart full to bursting of memories and moments that will bring me joy for years. And yet, I am leaving.
This will be my last blog post—maybe forever, maybe just for now. After all, I called the blog “Where’s Cathy?,” and who knows where life will take me next? If you’ve kept up on my journey, I thank you so much for your support over these years.
Até a próxima.