Monday, June 21, 2010

до свидания


до свидания is Russian for “Goodbye.” Today was Emily’s last day in Kazakhstan. After teaching last night we headed over to a small, old-style roller rink on the other side of town. To get there we hopped on a bus after work (it is never easy to find a bus late at night) and we got on the craziest bus possible. It took us for a loop all around the city and finally dropped us off in some crazy part of town we didn’t know. Luckily, we just kept walking and came to some familiarity. It wasn’t long before we joined everyone and tied on our quad skates that were very popular before my birth. We skated around to some pop and disco music. It was my first time skating like that and so I was trying new things and trying to learn how to do the cool moves the other guys were doing. I failed, but it was fun anyways. We had planned after that to go back to the girls’ place and stay up all night partying, but everyone wanted to go home after we got done skating around midnight. Needless to say, we didn’t stay up all night. We went to their apartment and took part in the few hours of sleep we had available until we had to wake up to see Emily off to the airport. We woke up early, Emily got in a taxi with Brian, Veronica, and her luggage while the boys (Steven, Orken, and I) hopped on a bus. By the time we were almost there we got a call and heard that her flight had been delayed (something I’ve noticed is quite common at the Almaty airport. It was delayed until later that night.

Emily was in Kazakhstan for an entire year before getting on that plane. She loves this place, you can tell. Life is so simple here in Kazakhstan, at least for us volunteers. Sure we have the occasional plumbing problems, and the normal inconveniences that one has living outside his/her homeland, but aside from that we have to show up to work, teach some classes, and then do whatever we want to do. We don’t make a lot of money, that is for sure, but we make enough to have fun, and occasionally buy some imported peanut butter. Life in America, at least my life, never seems to be simple. I’m sure it is because I make it this way, but it always seems to be filled with a good amount of uncertainty, difficult decision making, friendship drama, financial trouble, overly busy schedule, and more lovely parts of this mess we call life. I was thinking about this and all of Emily’s mixed feelings she wore on her face seemed to make sense. Not only was she leaving many good people, and her familiarity, she was leaving a simple life, going into the uncertain future.

I love communication, and I love getting inside people’s heads. I empathize with people, not always for the good reason that I care so much as the fact that I find people hugely interesting. And so I found myself trying to get into Emily’s head as she was going through this crazy time. I was trying to feel her feelings and then it hit me that in just two weeks, these feelings will be more real to me that I might want them to be. So very soon I will be the one saying the goodbyes and stepping into the complexity of normalcy—stepping into the uncertainty that lies before me. It’s quite frightening, but I guess all I can say is: Bring it on!

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