International teachers are a diverse and varied lot, but I am starting to notice a few dichotomies that seem to define us. One is that about half of the teachers abroad see it as their life long career, and others are year by year making the decision to stay abroad or head home. I seem to currently be in the latter, but time will tell. Another is that some teachers have such strong ties to home and family, while others really are gypsy citizens of the world who could belong anywhere. Here, I am definitely the former.
Everyone who knows me longer than a minute knows that I adore my large, loud, crazy family. I grew up across a few houses, but always within a 60 mile radius of most of my relatives. This meant that Sundays were full of dinner and weeding the garden at Greatgrandma’s house after church. It wasn’t unheard of to see aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents several days a week; in fact, two of my cousins were part of my almost daily childhood because their 4-H project pigs were in our barn. Essentially, my family is about as wholesome and loving as they come. Despite this – or maybe because of it – I left the people and place that had always been home to explore new lands. Because I have a wonderful support system, I get to travel the world with the safety net that home is always waiting to welcome me back with loving arms.
Yet, despite the joy I feel knowing that I will always belong somewhere, it is difficult to straddle the world and belong too many places. I am feeling that strain these days – for a lot of reasons. This weekend, it may be a little more acute because my best friend, my twin cousin, is getting married. I couldn’t be happier for her because if there is anyone who deserves love and who will use it to enrich the world, it is this woman. I have had a pretty severe case of hero worship my whole life, and after I got a new personality (thanks for the suggestion, Mom) in 7th grade, she decided that she liked me back.
And now, she is getting ready to marry a guy who makes her happy, who thinks she is as funny and smart and beautiful as she is, and who had the good sense to ask her to spend her whole life with him. I spent some time being sad that I couldn’t attend, but then I realized that is silly because weddings aren’t the one day that matters in a relationship. I got to attend their courtship – dinners at El Vez and El Rey and a trip to Vietnam. And, more importantly, I will get to attend small and major events of their marriage. I am excited to see them for holidays and random Tuesdays, when I can, and to rejoice that technology lets me in when I can’t be there physically.
So today, as I prepare to embark on my fall break trip to Laos, I am partially here in Asia, being a citizen of the world, and partially home in central PA cheering for the triumph of love in the life of my dearest friend. Cheers, Christyn and Jason!
Also, cheers to Mom on her birthday. So glad that she gets to spend it with family, rooting for love. I learned everything I know about selflessness, compassion, and acceptance from her, and I hope to someday possess half the measure of those traits as she does.
What a day to celebrate!