Sunday, March 21, 2010

My Peace Corps Wife is Leaving Me

Peace Corps is a funny, random, and strange experience from the start. PC tends to throw you into a mix of people with whom you may have very little in common, but from whom you'll expect a great deal of support and sympathy for the trials ahead. After a couple days of staging in Philly and then a couple days of staging/training in Baku, PC splits us up into training clusters. These clusters will learn together, live near each other, travel together, etc for the your first three months of PC.
When you first arrive to PC, I think it is fair to say that no one really knows what to expect. We all have different expectations, or lack thereof, and they tend to clash with other expectations as well. It is a weird time.
My cluster had four people in total: Kathy, Linda, and Andrea. More than half was through training PC re-divides our clusters into language skill. As a result, Andrea and I had to travel to another cluster site for language classes. We would walk along the beach for 30 min together each morning, have four hours of language classes, try to find lunch somehow, and then travel and sit together through our CED (Community Economic Development) sessions together. And then we'd travel home together. That is a lot of together! And that was our fate, not our choice. But I was lucky...if you had to be stuck with someone, you could only be as lucky to be stuck with Andrea.
The moment finally came when we trainees found out where our sites would be for the our two years of service. Woe and behold Andrea and I were both placed in Mingechevir doing either bank or quasi-bank like activities. Also, our host families at site were placed within walking distance from each other and far from the city center. At this moment we finally realized: Andrea and I are Peace Corps married. In other words, through the twist of fate of throwing yourself into some random country halfway across the world the PC gods decided our experiences would be intertwined...married.
And so it was. And it was a good marriage. But then tragedy struck: injury! Some time in February of 2009 Andrea began experiencing foot pains. No doctor in the country of Azerbaijan ever figured out what the problem. Consequently, when Andrea went to the US for her vacation during Christmas of 2009, she was able to see a proper podiatrist for the first time. The US podiatrist said that her x-rays were far from proper and that he couldn't determine a thing. Andrea re-took her x-rays and the podiatrist found her problem: an untreated injury that turned into a dead bone in the foot. How could Andrea solve this problem? Only one real answer: surgery.
Andrea somehow made it back to Azerbaijan with a shoe inset and many watchful eyes asking themselves if this was a wise decision. Without getting into details I'm not an authority on, the powers that be decided after about 3 weeks returned to AZ, Andrea would have to be "medically separated" after all. Medical separation means we get booted from country (with all our benefits! woo hoo! and with health care for that particular problem for life!) within only a matter of days, sometimes within a week or two.
So in short (or long?), my PC wife is leaving me. She has been by my side for over 19 months. Even if I didn't see her daily, I could always take for granted the fact that Andrea would be there. Not just in country, but a walking distance away. And now, she is leaving Wednesday.
When you first meet your fellow PCVs you never know the fate that will befall them. I certainly didn't guess this. But, Andrea must take care of this foot problem ASAP and I'm glad she will finally get the care she needs.
I'm gonna miss her.


Traci said...

Awesomesweet story of your time together. Best of luck to you, Andrea...

aaron said...

Alexis, I thought your last post was really thoughtful and sweet. I know this must be tough for you in a lot of ways (and for Andrea too of course). Please tell Andrea good look from me.

Love, Aaron