Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Home Sweet Home?

I loved working as a resident advisor but at times it became too much. The stresses of school and extracurricular activities, in general the day to day crisis that life could be had a way of piling up at my doorstep such that the nights I was on duty, I dreaded the four or five hours of open door policy where someone might drop by for a visit. The majority of the time the visitors were residents I enjoyed (oddly enough the troublemakers never would stop by) but there were those times where I just wanted peace and quiet. A home becomes a man’s sanctuary, his private hideaway from his public responsibilities, and for the last two years of my life, my home was my job, my private life more and more public. Graduating signaled the end of this life, a return to normality where my home could be where the introvert in me recharged to be the extrovert everyone else expected me to be.

“Alo” (think hello with an accent) ruptures the silence. We have no doorbell, and so this greeting serves as an announcement that someone is paying our house a visit. It usually comes as I am sitting on my couch journaling, writing a letter to a friend, or having a good conversation with one of my housemates. But it’s a rupture that happens day in and day out, and more often than not, when you are not ready for it.

I thought it was hard as an RA having a wide open door to my peers for 10 hours a week, but here, it’s a whole other ballgame. Our house is an open forum to anyone who wants to drop by to say hello, hunt out English lessons, or just sit in awkward silence for hours at a time as some people do. They come as early as 9 AM and as late as 11 PM, and have no days which they deem as days off. And unlike my college peers, they speak a language I am still struggling to grasp, a language that after a long day or during stressful times my brain is not always the best equipped to handle.

Sometimes, you just want silence. You just want your house to really be home sweet home. And yet, it is impossible here. My moments of true solitude and peace are when I hop on the metro, travel to some distant part of the city, and lay down in the grass of some foreign park. The people hustle and bustle all around me, but it’s like when I am there, I am no one. I am not an associate trying to live up to the expectations of my neighbors, the stories of my predecessors from years and years before. I am just another person enjoying the park, and the peaceful easiness that accompanies nothingness permeates my soul.

But as quickly as I find the peace, it disappears the moment I step back into the associate world. I no longer run just to run, I run to run away, a reality I am not proud of, but a reality that is nonetheless present. When the winter months come, and the rain barrels out of the sky, I wonder where I will find my space, my moment to be who I am at the core so I can be whom everyone else expects me to be, who wrong or right, I desperately want to be able to be.

I have no solutions, no turn around Disney ending for this one. It is hard to be present to others when I struggle to find the space to be present to myself. But in the end, I guess the reality of volunteering is that the romance of it all is harder to find than we’d like to admit. At times, it’s downright hard. I don’t know what to do about this one, I have a desire to be more present to our house visitors but often fail to turn desire into action. Sink or swim, if only life were that black or white how easy this would be.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You do need to find your space and some quiet time. Is there a church nearby that you can visit when you need down time?
Hang in there. You are an inspiration to everyone.
We miss you.
Love, Jodi