It has been almost six months since I last wrote a blog post. I’ve been to America and back—for six weeks in July and August-- where I sold my house and all my belongings save for one box of outdoor gear, one kayak paddle, my cross county skis. Now I have more stuff here in Crimea, though that isn’t much—clothes and a few books. So far, that feels very good—when I think of something of mine that I had grown to love, or so I thought—certain clothes or books or souvenirs from my travels—I feel no sense of loss but only a kind of fond memory of something I once appreciated. Perhaps when, or if, I try to reestablish a home for myself in America, I will miss all those things, but I think not. When I envision a future home, it is a small place—a single room with a kitchen and a bathroom—with few possessions. I have learned to live with very little here—I am hoping the comfortableness with that way of life will carry forward into whatever my future brings.
I feel now that my time here is starting to wind down. I know I have talked of possibly staying on in Crimea after the end of my Peace Corps stint, but now I am feeling that is less of a probability. I think that more than anything, for as long as I am mentally and physically able, I want to continue to do productive work in my life, but I feel the opportunities for that here in Crimea are dwindling. The major part of my work at the library is drawing to a close. Most of the grant work I have done at the library has been through the Peace Corps, and now I am no longer eligible for any of those grants. I will continue to search for other grant possibilities for the library but I know those are limited.
But I feel the major reason for my sense that my work here has little future is the language barrier. Though I feel competent in getting around and having conversations on a surface level, the language fluency necessary to have deeper conversations—to discuss project ideas, to process successes and failures, to just be creative—continues to allude me. I do feel there is much I could continue to do here if I could work with English-speaking people, but at least in the Crimean Tatar world, they are few and far between. It feels like I have come up against a wall—this is as far as I can go—or maybe as far as I am willing to go—without the language to thoroughly understand and partake of the conversations around me. Recently I learned a Russian verb that in the negative means to “not take part,” and in the example, referred to someone who could not take part in a conversation because he didn’t know English well enough. And I thought to myself, “Yes, that is me exactly.”
In my home life, too, I have come up against this wall. Lately, Lenura has asked me several times “Am I sad? Is something wrong?” obviously picking up on the current turbulence of my feelings about my life here, despite my belief that on the surface, at least, I am carrying on as usual—I guess “body language” doesn’t have that lost-in-translation problem. But despite my desire to talk with Lenura—to try and find the words for what I am feeling—I shy away from doing that, the memory so fresh of the last time I tried to talk about my feelings and her ending being up hurt because of something I inadvertently said, and I not even realizing how hurt she was until she told Serdar about it and then he told me.
So I am beginning to think more about what my future will bring and trying to trust that the path of my life will open up before me and that I will recognize the steps I need to take. And to not feel discouraged or depressed by my changing circumstances here and continue to be present to the abundant joy in my life.
And towards that goal, I have made an effort to get out hiking practically every weekend since I have been back from America. It is getting harder to do that now as the weather turns colder and the daylight hours have shriveled, but what a glorious autumn it was. In the next few blog posts, I will try to post some photos and highlights of those tramps around Crimea.
Once again, with love from Crimea.
Once again, with love from Crimea.