Monday, March 14, 2011

See Ya Later Seattle! Emotional Overload and Hugs Galore!

This past weekend was my going away party in Seattle. And, let me tell you, it surpassed even my wildest imagination!

First of all, my sister surprised me by flying up from southern California and "randomly" showing up at the bar we were at. Now, if you know my sister then you know that surprises are her forte but I'm also a teeny bit on the nosey side so it's hard to surprise me, especially this much. Honestly, for about a week before the trip I had been asking if there was a surprise because I had a hunch something was up but I definitely didn't expect her to come walking through the door! It was A-MAZ-ING! I literally cried and cried and smiled and then I cried some more beforing hugging the bejesus out of her! It was crazy and wonderful! (Major thank yous go out to Madison and Stephy for making that surprise possible! And whoa baby was I ever surprised!)

And then, as if I needed anything else to make my weekend complete, the next night was my actual goodbye party! The theme was "Africa" (DUH) and everyone was encouraged to interpret the theme as they saw fit and dress up accordingly. (Let me just state that I LOVE costumes and have never lost a costume contest to date!) Outfits ranged from animal print tops to full on costumes of cheetahs and meerkats! I dressed up like a "Peace Corps Volunteer" (of course!) and made a pretty sweet puff paint t-shirt and "survival kit" toolbelt, complete with carrots "for the zebras", mice to "thwart elephant stampedes", catnip "to calm the lions", a fly swatter "for malaria prevention", and lip gloss because "even in the bush, a girl's gotta look pretty"! The party was out of this world! I would guess that more than 50 or so people showed up throughout the night, including almost everyone from my sorority pledge class. I spent the entire night running around, talking to everyone, giving out as many hugs as humanly possible, and dancing the night away. I couldn't have asked for a better send-off in Seattle! I saw so many wonderful people and spent a lot of really quality time with my besties - it meant so much to me that everyone came out to support me!

The weekend was also a wild ride of emotions however - bittersweet, happy, nostalgic, and a little sad. Until then, I had only been living in the exciting parts about going on this journey and letting the surrealness of it all captivate me. Honestly, it was the first time it hit me that I am actually moving to Botswana and the first time I felt anything but pure happiness and joy. Plainly, it was a reality check.

I am actually kind of relieved that I finally had some new emotions about this experience. I was telling my friend Shelly on the airplane to Seattle that I was a little concerned because I hadn't felt angst or anxiety or doubt yet and it seemed like everyone else going was experiencing it in some way. I justified this lack of emotion by saying that I have been considering joining the Peace Corps for so long that the fact that it is finally happening overshadowed anything but happiness and excitement Well, being surrounded by my family and friends all weekend, having so many people come out for my going away party, and getting a billion hugs from people I care so much about sort of brought the emotions out of me. And I have to say that I have spontaneously cried since... a lot.

Now, please don't confuse my tears with second-guessing myself and not wanting to go. I am still completely and whole-heartedly committed to and thrilled about going to Botswana. Like I said, this is something that I have dreamed about doing for a long long time and I am beside myself about finally getting the opportunity. I am ready to go. My decision to go was actually validated and strengthened in the encouragement of my best friends and all of the kind words spoken to me over the weekend. It is just that now it is becoming real - very very real - and I am having to face the entire reality of what I am doing. 

Hugging my besties of nearly a decade, I finally had my first big cry realizing that I won't be seeing them for 27 months or more. They have been my rocks through so much and have always been there for me. At the same time, this also inspires and empowers me because I know that, despite the distance, they are always there for me, they support and love me unconditionally, and they are on my side. It is good to feel emotions and I am grateful that I have. This is a big change and it is nice to know that I have so many people here to encourage and support me through it. I'm a pretty darn lucky girl!

THANK YOU to everyone that came out to celebrate with me! It was definitely a celebration and I want each of you to know that I am finally able to do this because of your love and support. You mean the world to me!

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