Sunday, September 20, 2009

East or West?

Alongside the total trauma of knowing I will be leaving Morocco in two months, I have the exhilarating and stressful task of deciding where the heck I'm going at that point. Farm internships begin around March or April and I need to begin applying now, but ack! Too many opportunities are not something to ever complain about but I am feeling quite overwhelmed. The beautiful problem is that I'm too open to whatever and wherever. So many places and farms and things going on on those farms and in those places are interesting to me and I just can't whittle it down.

Indiana would be great since Ashley's living and going to school there. I've also always been intrigued by Montana and the Dakotas. Colorado is definitely a must but I think I'll wait until next season (I found a farm I definitely want to work on but want to have a season of experience before applying). Then there's Florida and the Southwest which I have no friends or interest in except that I love humidity and continue to dream of manatees.

The best I can really narrow it down to is the Northwest and the Northeast, which isn't narrowing it down much. By the Northwest I mean northern California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. California of course is home; it's what I know and much of what I love but I'm tempted to stay away for I may end up there. I love it, but don't know that I'm ready to return for good yet. My dad's in southern Washington and my brother is living in Oregon now (and he has more interest in farming than most of my family), so either of those could work. Then, far from both sides of the family, but still within reach, I could go to northern Washington and southern Alaska, wherein lie some very temping farms.

And then there's the opposite coast, particularly Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire. I've always had a desire to spend some time in the Northeast; to know for sure whether I'm really a west coaster. I think I am, but I just want to have a taste of the east. A big pro is that my older sister-like-cousin Danielle is currently at Harvard and it would be really cool to live near her. As we grow older I feel like we have more and more in common while seeing one another less and less. There is a dizzying number of amazing farms to work with there, in Maine alone I could be kept working for years. So is it silly to want to move somewhere new and unknown for awhile when really all I want to do is begin to settle down and find my own place? And how shitty of me would it be to pack up and move halfway back to Africa three months after returning home? Or is it also what I need to do- to be "home" in America, but not under the same roof? To get a taste of someplace new in a land that isn't? I just don't know. If I did the Northwest first, would I still want to try the Northeast? Or vice versa? And what if I did fall in love with the Northeast? I don't want to live that far away from family forever…

I continue to wait for some outside source to influence this important decision, which is often my method, but I know it's really my responsibility. I so want to have a real plan for when I step off that plane in America. I'm terrified of the readjustment period, the reverse culture shock, the many moments I will face such a deep missing and fear that I won't be able to continue living simply in a land where nothing is simple.

My tentative plan (have I mentioned it here before?) is to spend our wonderful giant family Thanksgiving in the usual park, bum around southern California, spend time with family and long lost friends, and work the horses with mom in her new business until mid-December. Then I'll hopefully convince someone to road trip up to Washington with me, visiting my old Peace Corps buddy Linsey and my dear brother along the way. I'll probably stay around my dad's until a bit after the New Year and then I'll have to find my way to the mid-west. It would be great to road trip out there too, but I don't know who'll be up for it. I'm going to do some talks at KCAI, to open those poor art school kid's eyes to other options with their silly art degrees, and visit all my wonderful professors and friends. Then I'll head to Indiana for some serious time, hopefully a couple weeks or more, with my dear Ashley. After that its intern time; the time I begin real work on the life I've dreamed of fully living.

Monday, September 14, 2009

two years on African soil

That's right; Friday was my two year anniversary of living in Morocco. I haven't been able to get my head out of the, "holy shit I'm leaving" hole since COS conference and this great landmark just keeps me going. These worries and something about Ramadan have been keeping me far away from sleep so the other night I gave up on my to-do list, plopped on a ponj and opened up my old journals. From my last year of college to the present, I reread the past three years of my life.

Reading old entries is like watching really old episodes of a show you've nearly forgotten about. You remember the basic events, but by watching it you relive the details, the things you only record in the moment. It's sweet and nostalgic, and incredibly eye-opening; it's far easier to recognize your growth when you see how young and naïve you once were. I've been writing a lot lately, which is no new thing, but particularly on how much I've changed. Most of my bad habits remain, but I feel my character is so much stronger, my values defined, my commitment to a direction strong. And this is good.

Two years down, two and a half months to go. Here is a photo (courtesy of Natalie) of the way I've been passing these long Ramadan days of fasting, and I absolutely love it. Khalti Aicha, Khalti Khshu and Sfia, some of my favorite ladies and best weaving company.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

the last day of August

(written last night)

Sorry I haven’t updated recently; it’s Ramadan and I’m moving slowly. I am fasting except for water, and no that doesn’t mean I don’t eat for a month. We break the fast at sundown and have fdur (breakfast), and then a drummer boy comes around town around 3am to wake everyone up to eat “dinner” before sunrise. It’s a crazy upside down and backwards month and terrible for your body, but whatev, here’s to cross-cultural experiences! I’ve been doing fine so far, minus some belly unhappiness with the new deal and the heat combined with fasting tends to leave me a tad grumpy.

Though it’s a lazy time, it’s also totally crazy! The second day of Ramadan my whole staj had to meet in Rabat for our COS (Close of Service) Conference. And I really didn’t wanna go. I’m not in denial about leaving, but still don’t want to talk about the reality all that much. The conference was fine, a lot of feeling talk, blah blah blah, I don’t want to get into it as I was actively making myself dislike it. Plus I was fasting.

But anyway, the reality remains-I’m leaving Morocco and home as I know it in less than three months. To sum up the feeling quickly, it’s a rumbling belly. Yes I have to use a food metaphor because my belly spends most of these days rumbling away. I’m caught between two grand meals-Morocco and America. Ok this metaphor so isn’t working, maybe just queasy describes it better. I’m hungry to start my life; I am living in the real world here, but in America I’ll be able to put what I’ve learned into practice and begin my “real” life there. I hate being so inarticulate. I just had a huge fdur at my neighbors so I’m bloated on bread and high on coffee, forgive me.

I am completely terrified of returning, how’s that? I said that to a fellow volunteer recently and he said, “Oh don’t worry, soon after you go back, everything will go back to the way it was,” and that’s when I realized my true fear-I don’t want to go back to the way it was, not in a million years! I fear taking things for granted again and getting used to the wasteful way of living that I despise so much and that I’ve learned I live so happily without. I fear returning to the drama; of maintaining healthy relationships and healthy distances.

I’m currently reading The Art of the Commonplace; the Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry, and, well, what can I say? I love that guy. His case for community and building a household, oh it just makes so much sense and it hurts to think of how fragmented family back home is. If you can’t understand why the hell I want to farm, read some Wendell Berry. He didn’t tell me to be a farmer, I decided that, and it’s the way I would like to put into practice what I believe and much of what he teaches.

I suppose that’s it for now, I’ll update again soonish. Maybe once my long days of fasting are over. Right now it’s just a few hours of work here, some cuddling of Bu and napping there, and some random freak outs about leaving in-between. I hope you’re all well and if you know any Muslims, don’t eat in front of them right now, k?

Sweet second to last note: For an idea of the less cynical representation of COS conference check out my dear friend Liz’s most recent blog post.

Funny last note: Most stajes put together superlatives for PeaceWorks (PC Morocco’s quarterly newsletter) in the last issue before we leave. I didn’t help put it together as I am not very witty, but enjoyed what was written of me immensely. Only slightly embarrassing(ly true) but totally sweet. I also noticed more people asked how he, rather than I, was doing, while in Rabat, ha. I only hope my luck changes and he won’t be my only wonderful companion when I return stateside… “Briana Godfrey - Most likely to gush about how wonderful her companion is, leading you to believe that her companion is some rare man, until you learn he’s a kitty – a lucky kitty for getting to spend so much time with Briana”