Part of the problem being here is that I have no purpose. I won’t be here long enough to get a real job, especially since my car broke down. Nothing is close enough for me to really walk to, and there are no buses this far outside of the city. I could use Uber to get around, but that gets expensive quickly in the States. I really don’t fit here anymore, and it just feels like I’m intruding on the world I left behind.
They talk about culture shock, but this is it more than anything. A world I really feel alienated from, and in many ways it should be so familiar. I feel defensive, irritated, and it’s a fight to do anything. This is not a vacation, but in many ways the opposite.
All the things I pushed to the side have returned. The car I left behind is gone, my phone died not long after, and it feels like all the things I’ve put off until later are suddenly pouring over the dam. In the world outside, my life is a vacation. This life isn’t, and not working makes it worse, not better.
I practice my Mandarin, I organize my blog, I clean a bit, sort a bit, and prepare for the life to come. It’s a strange mix of depression and anxiety that I haven’t really experienced since I left. The Peace Corps has been pure anxiety, but there is always something to do. Teaching was stressful at first, but I knew I could do it. I can do anything I’ve come up across so far. As long as there is a path even one person has walked, I know I can make it through.
This life is a waste, and not a glorious or relaxing waste, just a pause in all that I want to do. The people here have lives, and I don’t really have a place in them anymore. I regret not finding somewhere to work abroad for a month, maybe staying at a hostel in Mexico, or teaching on the side in Thailand. I could have been doing so many things, but the reality is that I thought this would be more than it is.
In a way, it’s what I needed. I don’t want this life. I could find a job and make my way, but I left because I didn’t like what my life was here. I don’t hate it, I just never found the meaning I was looking for. All the potential this life has is wasted on me. Right now, I know it won’t make me happy, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
It’s good that I’m going to China, that I’ll be gone for years. I learn with every move I make, and next time I’ll understand how to plan so I don’t have this void where I am. There is too much I still want to see, too many streets to walk down, and too many wonders to see. I don’t know what will come, and that is the greatest part of it. I want to be challenged, surprised, and even broken on occasion.
The problem with being here is that I have lived this life before, and I have broken from it before. I know this pain too well. I don’t know what life means, and I don’t really care. I have a direction, and for now, a plan.
Six weeks to go. Then I’ll be in San Francisco again, preparing to leave with all the other volunteers. That will be strange, to be leaving with others. I have lived with host families before, I’ve learned to teach, I’ve spoken Mandarin, and I’ve lived in an Asian country. I will be going further, but I’ve been preparing for a while. But, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I just can’t wait for the next page to turn.