24 May 2011

Halfway Through the Marathon

I'm going to kiss the dishwasher in my parents' kitchen when I get home. And the laundry machines. And the stove, and the pots and pans, and the bathtub, and my laptop. I'm going to go to the Boulder Farmer's Market and cry like a baby. I'm going to look at how our house doesn't have a lean to it and how all of our streets are paved and how ridiculously clear the picture is on our HDTV and wonder how I ever got along with something different. I am going to step inside a state-of-the-art hospital and feel uncomfortable that everything is so clean. 

In talking with a dear friend yesterday, I was reminded that all of this struggle and pain and frustration and disorganization and confusion all adding up to a big fat sense of futility is temporary. For me. It sounds like I'm homesick because I am, but it also alludes to a greater issue.

I feel guilty that this is temporary for me. Because it isn't for the people who live here.

All the things that were supposed to be one way and actually are totally different. All the systemic confusion and lack of responsibility on so many levels locally and nationally. All the corruption that seems to happen with deals like the recent HidroAysén fiasco here in Chile (if you don't know what I am referring to, check out this article http://matadornetwork.com/change/11-disgusting-facts-about-a-massive-dam-project-just-approved-in-chile/). All the struggle to change and develop and become a world player. All the unequal distribution of resources and opportunity.

I can and will leave at some point and go back to my cushy life in the States. Honestly, I have the resources to leave tomorrow morning if I wanted to. I could be sitting on my couch on the back porch in late spring with a pool to swim in within three days, instead of struggling yet again with my eighth graders on Friday, wondering why I am here if they don't want to learn and not one of the teachers in the school can control them. They know I am frustrated. The 8th graders keep telling me that I have no patience and the seventh graders ask me why I am not ashamed of my Spanish. 

I am beginning to hit some kind of a limit within me, which appears to be manifesting as anxious butterflies and a sincere desire to just leave the classroom and walk out of the school forever. My "boss" teacher didn't show up to school today, meaning that I had to throw everyone off by insisting that they fulfill the terms of their contract with the program and not force me to take a full class. People act like my presence is more of an inconvenience than anything else, whether it is in the school or at home or in Chile in general. I try so godamn hard every day to make everyone else's life easier and to give my time and work and sweat and money to help Chile, and some of it feels unappreciated on days like today.

I want to hope that this is just yet another "wall" like the ones that long-distance runners experience and that I just have to push through it...because make no mistake, my time in Chile is a marathon that is not getting any easier. Maybe this is just the feeling of the uphill section beginning after the first thirteen miles. 

But I don't want to leave. Not yet. Because I want to prove to myself that I can stick it out, that I am tough enough and flexible enough to stay even when I could easily cop out. Besides, only 34 days of teaching remain. Less than a third of the time I have left here in South America. The rest will be split between English Camps and traveling. 

At the very least, this time in my life gave me the perspective to truly appreciate the life I have lived up to this point...my education especially. And I now speak passable Chilean Spanish. And I have a lot of really beautiful photos. Maybe those three things are the whole point. Or maybe there isn't one. 

At this point it doesn't seem to matter too much. I'm halfway through the marathon. Only thirteen more miles (uphill) to go. 

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