January 7, 2016
Dear Darkened Rose,
It’s been awhile since I last wrote you; call it a holiday hiatus. I have been lingering in my exhaustion. I now have the time to slow down and reset.
Last year, I spent the majority of my time feeling stuck and tired. I seldom found the motivation to shake either feeling. I’d spend all of my time at work missing home. Then, when I was home, I was overwhelmed. I felt as though I had a latent agenda that I could never grasp to take care of it. The feeling of having my mind occupied would not cease. I was seldom living in the present. When I did, I engaged in the compulsive behaviors of Tetris/Fallout Shelter. I would often get stressed and compulsive when I was trying to be productive for the flood of near future events (pun intended). It was counterintuitive.
Here’s the vast contrast of one week’s environment compared to the next. From Eagle Pass to Disney World.
Eagle Pass Flood Response
Sleeping on cots in a drafty, tiled room with painted cinder-block walls and the noises of my fellow crew members’ daily movements. Staring at a Salvation Army food van outside, while I was freezing inside working on spreadsheets to create a database of homeowner information.
We spoke English to only a handful of people that were in the city who spoke it (including, but fortunately not limited to, my whole crew). We worked hard to communicate in any other way possible to Spanish-speakers. Charades, Spanglish, novice translators, fluent translators, google translators, and a lot of giggles and some spouts of impatience in-between.
When finally out on the field, I struggled with seeing the bigger picture. We were pulling drywall and insulation (some of which was still wet). We wore irritating protective gear. Swept up our mess from the crumbled drywall we failed to pull out in one piece. Had we been able to pull out any by a solid piece, a satisfaction was unanimously reached amongst us all. Lunch and breakfast frequently included eating loads of delicious, authentic, cheap tacos. Or going to a yellow-painted, local donut joint for free breakfast additives (coffee and donut holes); oh, the lovely Tommy’s Donuts. Or going to McDonald’s for Wifi.
Eating at the tables of some of the local homeowners was a moment I wish I could revisit when I need to be humbled most. We found ourselves being respectively placed in the roles that we had for each other. Homeowners to volunteers; cooks to feasters; both working vigorously for each other and so largely grateful of the other.
A few of us missed Halloween there. The story of that failed episode can be summed up by vowing to never fly Spirit Airlines, out of Houston, nor park in any cheap and near the airport parking lots ever again.
When we finally got there we were met with an indefinite delay of our luggage from the airline. We received it in a day’s time. Disney was on top of getting it to us, though. They were just as ready as we were for us to spend our time (and money) inside the parks. Daddy was an angel, as always, and helped us get things squared away when we were ready to sleep on a yummy hotel bed.
But Disney World…
Overly anticipated, a bit underwhelming while under construction, materialistic, hot, and exhausting. Beautiful, sunny, lively, entertaining, adventurous, eventful, eclectic, educating, delicious, clean, and comforting.
After coming down from the exhaustion, I found myself missing it a few days after we returned home. Albeit, I now know that conservation work and a vacation to Disney World are two things that do not complement each other when placed so close together. Everything meshed to cynicism. I started losing appreciation for both when I only considered the extremes of each while I was in those experiences.
I miss my crew.
I keep having this longing to talk to them, hug them, and reform their opinion of me. I know I did not appreciate The Corps enough while I was involved, so I had to write it down to reflect on how truly grateful I am for it. The people. Damn. The amazing, altruistic, fearless, and unpredictable people. I will undoubtedly long to often be reacquainted with them for many years to come.
But, new things are on the horizon.
I’ll catch you up more and keep you posted in my next letter. Maybe, following that, I’ll go to Stage 2. We’ll see. I’m working on having a 45-day delay be the max between each letter this year. I’m working on setting achievable goals. Finishing this camp for a reset to being present-minded is one. Going strong so far, with help from the supportive Kula around it.
I love you. I miss you.
Enclosed are cool things.
The Song: Sunshine
Other Fun Photos