With 125 hours left (yes I’ve been counting by the hour since 1000) I have recently been experiencing mixed feelings. The obvious ones surrounding leaving my longest relationship of my life are clear, but the reason for my writing today is not to dwell on that.
Its hard not to constantly compare my life with my time in the military, but I may have come into this experience hoping it would be similar, and I have to conclude that nothing will ever come close to then. Today was my fellow Bishkek FB-er’s last day, and her friend asked me if I regret coming here. I am not sure yet. Coming off my time in the military and then school, and getting to live back home for a year for the first time in 5+ years, to this isolation, that I most surely won’t miss, and I seriously look forward to settling down back home for the long haul, whatever it may bring. As this is my KGZ blog, I wanna end it more positively than my last entries were, as I stopped blogging a while back as I saw it as becoming selfish, had been told too many times it sounded like I “hated” it here and the kicker and straw that broke the camels back was when I was reminded that it was unprofessional to publicly and openly express the downside to being here when I am essentially a paid advertisement for the Fulbright program. That said, I refuse to bullshit, so instead of write fluff pieces about how wonderful my time here is, and the amazingly hopeful things happening here, I shut down the writing, not to say I didn’t want to continue to write as it is my only true outlet to the outside world and my tool to not have this experience be solely internal. Now that I have finished classes at the University, had my final talking club and stopped taking gruelingly unproductive Russian lessons (best decision I made here, wish I had done it earlier), the time for reflection has started as the pressure to do a better job at work is over, whats happened has happened and I can only tell myself that no one else knows what it was like in my shoes here, I should have been stronger and more productive, but given the circumstances, and not making excuses, I can say I made an above average effort to make the best of the situation to the best of my ability. In summary, for now, I hope I can one day, after a thorough debriefing, de-stressing and reintegration back into society and productivity, that in my time here most importantly, I learned how important it is to know one is doing the best they can without acknowledgement or accolades. After that huge lesson, kinda unlearned cause I still feel like I wish someone would truly have recognized my work here and fear I will go right back to the rat race for recognition (fine with me if it makes me money this time around, j/k, sorta), I can surely be happy leaving here knowing I learned a hell of a lot about a world which few Americans understand in a non-academic and non-elite way, along the way making a few friends who I look forward to sharing stories about my time here with in the future (similarly to my vets). My best friends in the world are still at home in DC (for the most part), and it is unreal that soon I will be going back to them, and the frustrations that go along with having 9-5 ers as best friends when I have thus far lived an alternative life. It has been time over the past few weeks to cut myself a break, and that has eased the difficulty and at times self inflicted difficulties I faced here. I am going to the big mountain lake, the most popular vacation destination in Central Asia, for the weekend with my girlfriend, have 2 days in Bishkek next week, and its over. As other FB’ers I have come to know have started returning home have begun posting how much they are sad they had to leave their country, right now I cannot say I am sad to leave here. I will be sad to not see my girlfriends daughter running towards me in joy, or her exuberant smile. I will miss the sense that I am a role model for hungry students in a place where there are few, and the sense of being looked up to, something that doesn’t happen when I am asking people if they want lemon with their water, the profession I am returning to. Most of all, I will miss knowing that, despite the oft turbulence, I know that here I have a partner who is with me 100% heart and soul. That part I can truly say I feel so sad about, I have almost pathologically removed it from the forefront of my mind. In summary, Z and her family and the things she taught me about her life and humanity in general will never leave who I have become and who I will be. The other people I met, ex-pats and locals alike, have shown me a side of life I will never forget albeit am unsure if I want to join life so far away from home for a year straight for a 3rd time. As for the country as a whole, it will always occupy a solid place in my understanding of life and I will forever give gratitude for being allowed to take part in KGZ’s cycle of life which will now go on with me in absentia.