nostalgia actually hit me in some forms today. I kept waiting for this to happen. We had our end of service conference quite some time ago and nothing at that conference seemed pertinent. It was, for me, premature. I've been counting down the days to departure (I still am), but the realization that this experience will end is hitting me...in some little ways.
First was buying my first nar of the season. Nar is pomegranite. Nar is a lot easier to say than pomegranite. Anyways, the nars in Azerbaijan are somehow better than the ones in the US. I'm not just saying that now because I'm leaving. This was actually one of the first things AZ PCVs notice when they get to country. We arrive in the late fall, in other words the beginning of nar season. Its almost like we don't know how to eat nar in the states. But, part of it is that the nar skin is thicker in the states and the fruit juice seeds seem farther and fewer between. Maybe not. Maybe I am just thinking this way because I'm leaving soon! I'll never know, because by the time I eat a nar next fall too much time will of elapsed. So, I bought this nar and thought to myself: this could be the last nar I buy in AZ. This is my third fall season in AZ...so it felt like the beginning to the end.
Also, just now I walked out of my apartment and a realization dawned on me. It is hard to describe, but my time in AZ will never seem real again. When I leave, when I go home, this experience will become something only myself and other AZ PCVs could possibly understand. The way this nation functions, looks, smells, acts, etc. is something you don't read about in the news, see in films, or hear about from others. People in the US don't even know that AZ exists. So this whole two year experience will probably seem like suspended time...like two years that never existed. I'll go home and all the people I know here and all the stories I have will solely be onto myself like as if I dreamed it the night before. There is something phenomenal about that...and something strange. When an experience is isolated it can get distorted. We choose to remember some things and forget others. The narrative shifts over time and in thirty years...what in the world will this 27 month span seem like to me? Will I remember how many times I wished for nothing other than to leave? Will I remember all the times I knew how lucky I was to experience something so rare, hidden, and challenging? Yes and no because life keeps happening and I'll keep focusing on current life events. What moments in my future will stop me in my place and remind me of Azerbaijan? I have no idea.
These two years, in many ways, have lasted an eternity. When a PCV arrives in country they have few luxuries beyond time. That is, time is our luxury. We've got nothing but unending time. When the time runs out (and it seems like it never will), it is strange to realize that my one luxury, the one thing I never had to worry about losing, is actually coming to an end. It isn't sad or happy. Ok, well...right now it is a little happy. But it is mind boggling. What did I actually do with my two years? We all assume that if we were in certain scenarios we would act a certain way and accomplish certain things. Well, I actually jumped off the building and joined PC...and what did I actually do? What were my experiences? What have I learned? I can definitely answer a lot of these questions right now, but I have a feeling I won't really be able to fully answer them for a while longer.