Peace Corps refers to the period after a Volunteer returns to America as their readjustment and places a lot of emphasis on warning returning volunteers that readjusting to life in America can be just as hard as it was initially to adjust to living in their Peace Corps assignment country, sometimes even harder. Their reasoning for saying that it can be harder to readjust is that when you leave to go to another country you expect things to change. You expect people to be different. You expect the culture to be different. Things might be harder to get used to than you might have imagined but you at least go into the situation expecting it to take time and effort to get used to it. While on the other hand returning back to America is essentially returning home, so you don't have expectations that going home would ever be hard...or that things would really change that much in two years that you would have to readjust to them so for a lot of people returning to America can be a real rude awakening.
For me, my readjustment has been hard to follow because I haven't actually spent much time readjusting. As soon as I got off the plane I feel like I closed the book on Moldova and simply started off where I left off in America...and since I had so many things that I needed to do so urgently like finding a job, a car, and a place to live all before the next school year started in three weeks I felt like my brain went into survival mode and I spent very little time thinking or doing anything that didn't relate to one of those three missions.
I guess my tunnel vision must have paid off because at this moment I was successful on all three fronts. I was able to get two interviews my first week and while I didn't get the first job I did get the second. I spent hours upon hours staring at classifieds, craiglist, and a whole host of other sites looking for a good used car and ended up purchasing the second car I looked at...(I actually went from seeing the car for the first time to leaving the DMV with tags and insurance in less than three hours). And finally I did the same amount of scouting online for a place to live as I did for my car and was successful getting my name on the list for the second place I called. (In case you haven't noticed good things seem to come to me in two's for some reason, I should go purchase two lottery tickets, the second one is bound to be a winner).
One of the few things I have been able to process and learn to appreciate since I have been home is life in a small town. (I should probably note first, however, that what I am calling a small town is really a small city with a population upwards of 17,000 people.)
When I went to my first interview it was very far away from where I grew up and I had never actually visited the town before I went to go for the interview. When I went for my second interview the middle school I went to was actually the same middle school I had attended 11 years ago and where I did my student teaching two years ago. The principal who was principal when I was a student was the one who conducted the interview and to top it all off when I was on my way to the office standing in the doorway was my middle school guidance counselor, who also happened to have been my high school guidance counselor, and who had moved back to the middle school in time for me to work with her when I had student taught there. I ended up getting a position that wasn't what I initially wanted but one that I was happy to have.
Not too long after getting the confirmation that I would have the position my search for a car became frantic as I would need one in less than a week to start attending new teacher seminars and preparing for the first week of school. The first car I looked at was higher on my price range than I really wanted and the engine light came on when I went for my test drive...so that was a no. The second car was exactly what I had been looking for and I came to find out that the woman I bought it from had a sister who had just gotten a position teaching 8th grade history at the same middle school I was hired at. Her sister ended up giving me my spare key at school and I gave her a pair of sunglasses her sister had left in the car. To make everything even more eerily coincidental a teacher ended up retiring four days from the start of school who had been the other 8th grade history teacher (who happened to be my 8th grade history teacher) and I was asked if I would like to take the position. So funny enough when I tell my students that I remember sitting where they are sitting 11 years ago it will be truer than they realize since one of them will be sitting in the same desk, in the same classroom, at the same school.
As far as readjustment goes I have a feeling that I will start to really take notice of things as everything starts to return to a routine. Right now I have been on the move so much I have barely had time to think about Moldova and the things I left behind. Today was really the first time I really thought about Moldova and that was because I was lucky enough to be able to Skype with my host mother now that the new health volunteer has officially moved into my old house in the village I lived in. Thankfully I have not forgotten Romanian yet but I can't imagine that I would stay fluent with it if I don't find someone to speak to more often. As they say if you don't use it you lose it and I have hardly uttered more than three words in Romanian since I returned to America and other than Skype I don't see when I would ever use it.
Another thing that has increasingly worried me is just how easy it is to go about my life without ever thinking about or reflecting upon my service in Moldova. For me, the two years of my life I spent in Moldova have changed me more than anything else has ever changed me but I don't feel that I really have an outlet to express that or share those experiences and I really don't think anyone that I will meet in America will ever truly understand it either. And the instinct for me, especially while I'm hectically trying to pull everything together, is to just push it out of my mind and live in the moment...and the sad thing is just how easy that has been for me to do.
That is why I am so glad I have taken the time to put down my experiences into words as I have done these past three years. I have never been a writer and I can't say that I think anyone reading this would ever find it enjoyable but as selfish as it is I really never intended to write this for anyone else. I wrote it for me, and I'm glad I did. There were many times where I had to force myself to write something, especially when it seemed like nothing worth writing about had happened but I did it anyway, and I know that I will only be more appreciative of all the effort as I get older and I really do start to have trouble remembering things. Who knows maybe there is someone out there who really does appreciate this as much as I do.