Friday, May 30, 2008

A few thoughts on leaving

Today, for the umpteenth time this past month, I was asked about my departure in July. People always ask the same question - "Are you excited?"

"Are you excited, are you excited, are you excited, are you excited..." A leading question like that, asked so many times, convinced me of what my answer should be. Of course I'm excited! I've been waiting for this for over a year! I'm ecstatic! And then I explain all the way sin which I'm excited. Which, in all honesty, I had to intellectually contrive my excitement around certain things I deduced a person *might* be more or less prone to be excited about at this time.

Today, I realized with a shock, that when I answer that question, my facial expression and physical posture are at complete odds with my words. As I attempt to describe my excitement my face grimaces, by brows furrow, and my body shrinks into a fetal defensive posture. Internally, my mind darkens, my stomach knots up into a ball, and my back starts to ache at the base of my neck.

I realized... the truth is, I'm not excited about going. I'm stressed out of my mind. Perhaps even terrified. I almost physically crumple from exhaustion when I think of all there is to do and get ready. When I think of leaving my family and friends - it's even worse. I don't feel angry or sad or anything. It's complete non-feeling. Non-feeling, by the way, terrifies me the most because I know its an illusion. Non-feeling is what will totally floor me with sudden grief in about... say, six months.

To get rid of the physical tension knotting my body into a tightened ball, I've tried my best to boost up the active exercise - more biking, intense running, weight lifting. Anything to unlatch the clenching tightness I feel in my neck, shoulders, and stomach.

To get rid of the emotional tension - I dunno, I'm not sure where it goes. Probably into snapping out at my friends and family. What a great way to ease the pain of disconnecting - by ticking everyone off! Some of it, much of it, actually, is felt out through writing and journaling.

Some of it could be remotely construed as "excitement," I suppose. That is the part of me that is ruthlessly researching, planning, and thinking ahead to new adventures in the near future. That's the part of me that gets a thrill from going to get vaccinations. That's the part of me that is stirred with emotion whenever I hear someone speaking Spanish. That's the adolescent part of me that thinks - Central America? Sweet! Hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes! Rainforests and multi-colored birds, bright red frogs and colorful snakes! Scuba diving, beaches, jungles, and mystery! That part of me is excited.

But I'm not over there yet. The excitement of this new adventure is right now overshadowed by this slowly fading world here in Nampa. I often find myself disabled by "exhaustion;" or aloof and disconnected, or in complete shock. Minutes on end can pass by before I snap to attention and realize I was just spacing out for several minutes. I don't want to be with people, I don't want to think, I don't want to feel. I just want to incubate for the remaining months and skip to the "exciting" part.

So do I feel "excited?" I don't think that's the right word. I won't be "excited" until my feet are on the seismic soil of Costa Rica, until I'm plunged into a sea of words and customs I don't know, until my eyes are filled with the colors, sounds, and smells of a new country. Then, what I feel will probably be more accurately labeled "excited." Right now, "dread" is probably a better label. "Terrified" fits as well.

If I could make a comparison, it's like public speaking (for me, at least). Or the first time a a surgeon plunges a scalpel into a real patient. At first you're paralyzed with fear. Once you're in, it's sorta fun! That's why I use an icebreaker when I speak. To put me at ease, not just the audience!