“Oh great, every seat has a plastic bag on it. That’s a good sign,” Emily laughs. She chooses the seat without a bag.
So, it happened again. Puke in Puke is perhaps funny the first time, but Puke in Puke the second time around is just absurd. I think the region is cursed, or that Sam Bell is trying to poison me. Or maybe it was something in the ferociously blue Funfetti cake we ate the night before. Or too much Dance Moms. Or too many dried beans. Or the water. Or karma. Or perhaps, once again, my body is just letting me know that my Albanian lifestyle is still an unpalatable and grave annoyance to it. Either way, I find myself on the 8am furgon.
I sit down and immediately my stomach starts to quiver. A very familiar and terrifying quiver, one that makes me feel freezing while I am producing clammy sweat beads on my forehead. As we commence our journey on the partially paved, windy mountain road, things only get worse. I attempt to create, as 30 Rock would call it, a “designated fart dampener” with my cozy winter coat, but it is no use. It is obvious I am having corporeal issues. The phrase, “I have never been this uncomfortable in my life,” (apparently my general Peace Corps mantra) is running in a loop through my head, and all I want to do is find a bathroom and have an unfortunate, but necessary, 10 minutes of intestinal agony. I am not so lucky.
The little boy next to me is stoically, and silently, vomiting yellow bile into a thick, green plastic bag. Albanians were generally not allowed to own cars until the post-Communist 1990s, so the Albanian stomach has not physically evolved to be able to handle even straight roads very well, or so my liberal arts degree tells me about science. I used to have personal pride in a strong American stomach and ugly, self-righteous annoyance at people throwing up on busses and furgons. The noise was awful, the smell noxious, and sometimes the roads just were not even close to bad enough to justify vomiting. However, the past two years have not only been a hit to my bowels, but also to my pride, and vomiting on a furgon was in no way my proudest moment. The little boy did it a lot better.
A great little video put together by a fellow PCV with advice for the new group!—
Katie Day6: I never think that I’m something I am not. May I not seek and want to be better, or separate, or smarter or wiser or more loved or more valuable than another, for the sake of vanity. May I always be truthful. May I not use others to elevate myself or feel special or glamorous. May I act from the reality of true caring and love, for the highest blessing of all. May I embody benevolence, for myself and others. May I give joy. May I be the understanding underneath words.
Non-attachment as Love. Not forcing or controlling. Pure, direct seeing.
I commit to trusting this Living Now. I embody this commitment. I am willing to change.
Laura Day6: If I am still and present, i can feel a big bright light in my chest, extending through my finger tips and placed gently on the crown of my head. I know that’s something, and I’m okay with not knowing exactly what it is.
May 24th is your day!
You’re off to the United States!
You’re off and away!
But as we go we cannot forget,
Nena Shqiperia, we owe her a debt.
She has taught us and gave us so much without thought.
We humbly offer her the small seeds we have brought
Oh the places we’ve been!
From Syri i Kalter so crystal and blue,
To the Malsor mountains, majestic and true.
You laid claim to the mosquito-filled swamps of Divjake.
Turkeys, food and fun for 20 hungry people?
Your door you did not lock.
The golden team of Bajram-Curri, who could ever fill the shoe?
You opened that site in the dangerous north—good for you.
Katie Day 5: What is the space within which I take place? Thought, perception, happenings—seen and felt. Here. Where is here? How is here existing? In what is my mind placed; where is it located? What is the space for that? What holds the space for me to be?
Laura Day 5: The feeling of a clenched heart is what tells me I am real, and that my soul is the color it is for a reason. I wonder who can see the color of my soul. I wonder what power my energy has and who feels it more than others.
Katie Day 4: Now, live fully, without holding back. Your life already is fully here. Aligning to the presence that is, find out what you sing.
Laura Day 4: Remembering that I have the right to be so, so happy and proud of myself. To laugh myself to the next century. To brush through the clearing and enjoy sharing my own space. To keep discovering, always. To lie in bed all day, listening. To tap into old mixes on iTunes and allow myself to feel. To blend strawberries, mangos, coconut, flax, and banana together and enjoy it in the sun. To not know, and to feel bad about that. To not know, and to grab inspiration from it.
I boarded the Munich to San Francisco flight with my carry-on that was probably too big and definitely too heavy. I had filled it with sentimental books, a box of cards and photos, my laptop, and at the last minute fifteen pairs of socks (and two felt hats) for people at home. I was bulging with loose socks. My plane was a tall plane, and I, being a short person especially on tall planes, needed some help putting my bulging, unzipped bag into the bin. I asked a redwood-heighted gentleman of non-American origin to help me, and he asked what angle I wanted the bag, presumably noticing that I was pushing it on this one.
Excited to be speaking my native language, I attempted to be self-deprecating.
“It doesn’t matter, it’s going to explode anyway!”
I don’t know what he understood of that, but he smiled, put my bag in the bin, and walked to his seat. I sat for ten minutes in my middle of the middle seats, self-satisfied at my own charm, until I realized what I had said. I could blame Albania for making me less socially savvy, lazy with my words, for making me forget to never, even inadvertently, make a bomb on an airplane joke, but I have family and friends who have known me too long to allow me to scapegoat.