So it hit me today. An encroaching wall cloud finally rushed over me this afternoon as I realized everything here is about to end. Now, I’m just going to take a moment because writing is how I get things out and I need to purge myself of some sadness right now.
I probably won’t show it outwardly very much, unless I start crying, then it’s a lost cause. But anyway, I’m just yelling into the rain here. So four years ago I was actually in between moving from OKC to here. I had just said goodbye to a group of students whose well being I was terrified for and felt I had left a little chunk of my soul there with them. It’s still there, hovering somewhere around my old kids, wondering how they are doing, hoping they made it out of the situations they were in, hoping they are still winning the many battles they have had to face and hoping they win the ones that have yet to come. I keep in touch with many of them now. One was lost – shot and killed in the name of drugs. One ran away and got involved in things you couldn’t imagine. Many of them, though, are about to graduate high school and are doing so well, which warms my heart like you wouldn’t believe. I think about my fellow teachers who are still there fighting for those kids every day.
I have had a love/hate relationship with this island since I got here. I don’t love it. If I said I did it would be a bold face lie. But I do love everything and everyone that has blessed these last four years of my life. Living in a foreign country is a strange experience. Besides the language barrier, driving on the other side of the road in the other seat, the different cultures, living conditions, and everything else different. You learn very quickly how to be on your own and live by yourself and still manage to do it with a smile. For some that is easy, but for others like me whose very heart is stitched to my family, it’s one of the hardest things in the world. You learn that it takes REAL effort to keep your friendships. You feel like you are standing still and the rest of the world back home is turning, going about their daily lives, seeing and loving each other, while you stand there and watch. That’s tough. You can’t change it, so you learn to live with it. You learn to Skype and spend a little more time on Facebook than you should. You learn to figure time differences in a split second so you can call people at a decent hour on their birthday (or feel like an arse if you miss it because you got the days mixed up), and you have to accept that if you work during the day the only time you will be able to hear your parents’ voices is once a week. Well, I can honestly say that I am shouting hallelujah that all of those things are about to be done with. That makes me want to get up and sing some Bon Jovi karaoke style. But I can’t…because as happy as I am to get away from here, I am also that sad.
When I think back on everything that has happened in our lives while here I can’t help but get a lump in my throat. In seven days we will be out of this apartment. Thing 1 took his first bath in our huge Japanese kitchen sink. I had my baby shower with my stateside friends and family via Skype right in my living room. K laughed for the very first time while I sang “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” on our bed. He took his first steps about five feet from where I’m sitting right now. We had our first holiday dinner alone as a family here in our dining room. You know what I mean.
And my class. I can’t tell you how much I hate leaving my students in the middle of the year. I think it is starting to hit them now that I am leaving. All of my stuff is pretty much moved out of the classroom, leaving it pathetically bare, and they are starting to hang on me a little longer than usual. I have a photo book I made of pictures from this year and some of them have signed it at least five times saying typical 2nd grade things like, “Mrs. Eishen, you are the best evvvver teacher in the hole yooneverse,” and “I am sad your leeving,” next to a stick figure drawing of themselves with big tears falling from their circular faces. I guess what did it for me today was when I had one of my parents tell me that her daughter has been saying every single day how “Mrs. Eishen is leaving” and she actually asked her mom, “What am I going to do without her?” So the mom starts tearing up, then I start to, and the little girl comes up and hugs me, so the floodgates have been swung open now and I have that parent to thank for it! =) I guess the only solace I have is knowing that my kids are loved. When I leave they will be sad, but they’ll jump back and start smiling and laughing again in no time. I don’t have to worry that they will crumble to pieces because they are missing that cornerstone of a loving family. Playing that role is so emotional, and I’m thankful I don’t have to do it here.
And finally my friends. If anyone knows me at all they know that I consider my friends family. I’m not perfect, and I know I’ve disappointed people before, but I really do value my friendships so much. There is a special bond you make with friends overseas. You spend your holidays with them (potluck Thanksgiving anyone?). You share huge events in your life with them (finding out the sex of your baby-yes, my two girlfriends knew my baby was a boy before I did). They are your main source of support while you are here and I am not in any way ready to leave them. When I first got to the island it was so daunting because you really do have to throw yourself out there to find friends and I was not in the throwing myself out there kind of mood seeing as though I was six weeks pregnant with a deployed husband. Thankfully, a random girl on myspace found me and because of her I found some girlfriends I will have forever. There are only two of our original group of girls left now, and the last one follows me out by a couple months. My girlfriends were my support when Ian was deployed, and that alone I do not even have words for. It’s a very lonely period when your spouse is gone…it’s confusing and emotional, a roller-coaster in every sense of the word really. And my friends were there to pull me out of the trenches, to slap me when I needed it, or to make me laugh till I cried when life seemed full of sucktitude.
It’s hard. But I’m thankful for the sadness, because without it it would mean I didn’t grow, I didn’t learn, I didn’t have an amazing experience these past four years. But I did. So bring on the rain.