An Imperfect Analogy

My favorite movie of all time is Remember the Titans. Partially because I think Denzel Washington is the closest a human can come to perfection; but also because the movie is full wisdom and life lessons. I can quote the entire movie from start to finish, but hands down, my favorite scene happens between the two daughters of the frenemy football coaches. 

One daughter, Sheryl, is rambunctious with blonde curls and a penchant for screaming dramatically during every football game. The other daughter, Nicky, is a sophisticated girly girl who would rather paint her nails and play with dolls than come anywhere near a sporting event. The two are finally flirting with the edges of friendship, or at least mutual indifference, when they find themselves next to each other in the stands watching an important football game. 

Sheryl is deep in a stream of consciousness narration of every single football statistic about each player. She is desperately trying to get Nicky to engage when finally, Nicky snaps. She turns toward Sheryl, looks her in the eye and says, “Sheryl. SHERYL. SHERYL! I. Do. Not. Care.” 

Sheryl is my life here in Thailand. I am Nicky.

I’m not proud of it. I want desperately to stay engaged here. But as I’m sitting in the stands, watching this crazy game play out, my inner Nicky is screaming at the world: “I do not care!” I just want to be at my American home. Snuggled in a familiar blanket on the couch in my parent’s living room watching HGTV with a cup of hot chocolate and marshmallows.

I’m over everything. Over trying to get the tones right. Over trying to translate everything in a way that makes sense. Over trying to teach myself more Thai. Over biking every single day just to get out, or to get food, or let’s be real…chocolate. Over the silence of my home. Over the noise of literally everywhere that isn’t home. Over feeling inadequate. Over feeling whiny. Over feeling strong. Over trying to figure out what it is I’m feeling. I’m tired. Tired of being misunderstood. Tired of being forgotten. Tired of being a burden and/or an after-thought. Tired of wondering if everyone else is also tired.

So in this season of transition, as I prepare myself to return home, I took some time this weekend to remind myself of a few things:

1. It’s ok to miss home, especially around the holidays. It doesn’t make me any less strong or resilient. Also…missing Chipotle and Target (even with the risk of E. Coli and/or identity theft) is still a completely valid desire.

2. I am always an emotional mess at the start/finish of big life transitions. Always. It’s my pattern. I shut down in order to make it easier to leave and face a new, unknown, rhythm of life.

3. Nicky needed Sheryl and Sheryl needed Nicky. They both came out the other side as better people.

Number 3 is so important, because this journey has NOT been all bad. Not even close. In fact, it’s been mostly good! The difficult days have been the kind of hard that comes with two years spent anywhere that isn’t home; so that’s not only on Thailand. I am deeply grateful for the past two years. I am overwhelmed by the amount of love I have for the new friends in my life. I didn’t come into Peace Corps thinking I’d leave it with such close friendships (from Thais or Americans), but here we are. I hate goodbyes so I instinctively start to back away from the world because it makes it easier to weather the impending loss and inevitable change.

Yet I have Thailand, like Nicky had Sheryl, continuing to scream at me amidst my retreat, and I’m grateful. I suppose this is an imperfect analogy because I genuinely don’t think Nicky gave a s*** about those football statistics, but I do care a whole lot about this place and these people. I would hate for my homesickness to ruin what I have left of this once in a lifetime adventure. For my final two months here, in what I suppose could be termed a New Years resolution, I want to shake off the sense of impending transitional doom and try not to wish away these final 60 days.

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy New Year!

*PS – If you have never seen Remember the Titans, you’ve had 18 years…what have you even been doing with your life????

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