Yesterday, I cleaned out my RV and placed it for sale.
In doing this, I have had to take what few belongings I have left and move them into my Mom’s house. My next step will be reviewing what I have and trying to squish into two suitcases
what I want to take with me to Africa for the next two years.
Fortunately, I have already given most of my worldly possessions to my kids. Anything extra with non-sentimental value has been donated. What I am left with is truly the distillation of what means the most to me, plus some stuff I need to live.
As I was chatting with my friend last night, I was saying that this truly feels like a rebirth to me. I have literally shed all trappings of my life thus far. With every possession shed, it becomes easier to shed another. I am almost 45 years old, and could easily live another 40 or 50 years. I am faced with just what I want that to look like.
When I leave in April, I will be leaving for an adventure that will truly be life-altering for me. I will be doing something (hopefully) beneficial for the world, while also experiencing an adventure. I will have a place to reevaluate just what is important to me. I will have no trappings to material items that will bind me. When (if) I return to life in America, it will be up to me to craft my life.
What Really Matters
Instead of sadness or nostalgia, I feel liberated and light. I feel eager to get on with things. I have come to realize that what means the most to me is the connections I make with people. I treasure the little episodes with people I meet and spend time with. Time and how you spend it is the commodity that you must protect. With that realization comes the willingness and desire to shed anything that holds you back.
I have started counting down my days until I leave for the Peace Corps. In many ways, I have done all I can do, so it is a waiting game. I work. I write. I occasionally go on a date. I watch movies. I try to pay off bills.
I am the kind of person that hates downtime. I seem to live perpetually in the future, so it takes a colossal effort for me to slow down and savor the moment. I do love to take nature walks, but I detest the cold, so I have been home-bound a bit for the last month.
Adult Dating Is Complicated
I had a recent romance that was a revelation to me. He was a wonderful man, and I will forever be grateful to have met him. Sadly, our paths were not to continue for long, but the time that we had was intense and wonderful.
Since our brief interlude, I have had a few epiphanies. One, I am redoubled on my commitment to leave for the Peace Corps. I have realized that I was wavering on my plan because I was infatuated with him. He did not ask me to stay, but he certainly welcomed my desire to stay with him. It was fascinating to see that almost as soon as we ended, the confusion dropped, and I was as clear as ever. It was almost as if I had awakened from some spell.
Pleasing Others Above Myself
Two, I have realized that I have always lived my life to please others. I have held onto desires for myself, but I was always willing to abandon them for love and commitments. That was admirable when I was raising children, but at this point, it is just foolish. If I am ever going to experience what I want to experience, I must do it now. Tomorrow is never guaranteed.
Three, dating gets quite complicated the older you get. I have many opinions about why that is, but essentially I think it comes to this: we all have a past, and we all have lived long enough to have a good idea of what we want. We are also old enough to recognize that there will be life afterwards if things don’t work out.
Four, I almost unthinkingly fell into a traditional gender role with him. It was frightening how naturally I just allowed his life to take over mine. Part of the reason was because he was running multiple businesses and was always busy, while I am wrapping up my life here, so my schedule is a bit more flexible. I found I was very willing to follow his lead. I have realized that it is a pattern that is almost ingrained in me, and it was scary how it was almost an intuitive move.
Ready For Change
Finally, I suppose I am just ready for a change. I want to be yanked from my comfort zone and be forced to adapt to a new life. I want to get out of my head and do something worthy. I want to leave everything behind and redefine all that I am.
Last year, I met and fell in love with the most incredible man I had ever met. He fascinated me with his travels, adventures, and intelligence. He showed me a life I had never considered before, and it was amazing.
We have had an intense and passionate romance, that came to an abrupt halt when his contract for work ended in America, and he had to return to Germany for his next project. Though we tried to find ways to keep him here or for me to join him there, it just never came together for us. It was absolutely heart-breaking and gut-wrenching.
In the months that have passed since his departure, my emotions have run the gamut. There is regret that we did not have more time. There is pain from the separation. There is appreciation for what we had together, and there is hope that we will be together again.
We have continued our relationship out of sheer stubbornness. It is so hard to release something that was so incredibly magical. Even as we both take other lovers, we cling to one another. When I consider ending things completely, I must wonder, what is there to end? We message each other daily, but we have not seen each other in months, nor do we have an exact date for a reunion.
I want to be angry with him for leaving, but how can I? He is being true to himself in living the life he desires. In his own way, probably without realizing it, he has released me to be the woman that I should have been all along. I finally took the initiative to join the Peace Corps, which was a lifelong desire of mine.
I also remember telling friends that, after having such an amazing man in my life, a new bar had been set. How could I choose unworthy men after him? I could only imagine the Superman that would come to me next.
The lovers that I have had since have all been special in their own way. I have no real interest in money, long-term relationships, or security, so I have held no agenda. I have chosen lovers who were fascinating and accomplished. I love meeting men from other countries who can teach me about the world from their standpoint. I love meeting men who are able to challenge my worldview. I have been able to truly enjoy them for who they are, and when our time was done, we kissed, held one another, then said goodbye with no regrets. I am pleased to still call most of them friends.
Knowing that I am leaving the country for two years to fulfill my dream has allowed me to step back and just live life. It has been liberating. And yet, in a plot twist worthy of M. Night Shyamalan, the Man of Steel himself has stepped into my life.
The day we met, I had just decided I was leaving Charleston until it was time for me to leave for Mozambique. On our date, within minutes of meeting one another, I had told him of my plan, and yet, he has enchanted me. We have lived more in the few weeks that we have known one another, than I have had in entire relationships with others. Our connection is deep and almost otherworldly. Perhaps because of the time we have left, we are pouring ourselves into one another.
This comes down to, not a choice between two amazing men, but rather which will I choose: a future with him or my dream life?
The one lesson I have learned is that when you release a lover, even if you both have every intention of reconciliation, once you allow the moment to pass, it will never be the same. New lovers will enter. New paths will open up. I know the person I will be after the Peace Corps will not be the person I am now. Will we still cling to one another as we do now?
And yet, if I choose him, will I ever grow to regret not following my dream?
What he and I both believe is that everything happens in its time and exactly as it is meant to be. He was meant to come to me now. I am so grateful for him, and I shall cherish every moment we have in the time that we have. I am blessed to have him.
Since applying for the Peace Corps a mere 16 days ago, my life has taken a radical change in direction and I feel like I have no time left!
As anyone that knows me will attest, I truly believe that things happen for a reason and when it is the right time. When something is meant to be, it will flow, and when it isn’t, there will be one delay after another. I have been wrestling with my next steps for over a year now.
Through it all, I always knew my time in Charleston was transient. I have made friends, found work, and embraced new loves. This place has given me the opportunity to work through my goals, mindsets, dreams, and sorrows. In some cases, it felt like a tortuous purgatory. Yet, like anything life-altering and painful, there was so much growth.
This time of reflection culminated in my month spent working in St Thomas. It was there that I was finally able to gain some clarity and begin looking to the future. I realized that my fantasies of what could be would never come to pass without action on my part.
I could very easily stay in Charleston and find a permanent home. Massage therapy work is plentiful and lucrative by Charleston standards. I could have a very contented life. The problem is, I am not made that way. I have a restlessness and desire for adventure and meaning that will never allow me to settle into peaceful bliss. So, upon my return to Charleston, I finally completed my Peace Corps application.
That was all I needed to do to irrevocably change everything. In the past 16 days, I have committed to 26 months in Africa. This decision has overtaken my schedule. My To-Do list is filled with medical and dental exams, fingerprinting, paperwork, multiple trips to the Post Office, and phone calls and emails.
Even though my leave date is not until April, I have realized just how little time I have left to do all of the things that I need to do. It’s not just the big things for the Peace Corps, it’s the little things like preparing to step out of my life for two years. The time that seemed to stretch on in dreadful monotony has now sped up to the point that I am just holding onand trying to cherish every moment left.
Last night, as I was dining with friends, I received an email that will change the course of my entire future. This subject line was sitting in my inbox:
Peace Corps Invitation to Serve
Dear Kandace, Congratulations! You have been selected to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer. This letter is your formal invitation to serve as a Community Health Services Promoter in Mozambique departing April 2019.
Now, the crazy begins! I have a ridiculous amount of steps to take from getting medical clearance, undergoing a background check, getting my Peace Corps passport, to things like eliminating everything in my life.
I am exhilarated. This is the culmination of a life-long dream, and it is finally within my grasp. I can almost see the day (only a mere 6 months away) when I will be boarding a plane to Africa to serve in the Peace Corps for over 2 years.
I have no doubt that I will have moments when I wonder what I just accepted. I am sure that there may be moments of fear or anxiety, but in truth, this just feels perfect. I applied a mere week ago, and this has just come together so quickly. I went from having no firm direction, to fulfilling a dream I have carried since I was a kid.
I am so pleased to have friends from all over the world who have encouraged me to take this step to join the Peace Corps as a volunteer. They have been supportive and enthusiastic in their advice and opinions. Through these past few years, I have come to understand that the connections we make with one another are greater than moving ahead with an agenda in a defined relationship.
If I only see my family once a year, we still are able to pick up as if there was never a separation. The friends I have made in Florida and South Carolina are still there and have not disappeared.
I have learned to appreciate without attachment, and my heart and mind are all the stronger for it. Those that have touched my life will always be a part of me, and I will carry them with me in my worldwide travels.