Monday, January 10, 2011

Eastward Ho - Part II

I stopped in Harrisburg to see the State Capitol – hm, maybe I really should try to see them all! Or maybe not. This one was impressive, with a beautiful green roof. I did a self-guided tour. I like Pennsylvania! Got to Mike and Tobi’s house just as Mike did; I had seen them at Princeton during my service (plus I had a photo puzzle of them that they had sent me), so even though we didn’t have enough time together, we didn’t have two years to catch up on. I’d have stayed longer, but it was during the week and there was work and school for those who go to work and school. We had a nice dinner and time for games! And time for Starbucks in the morning before I left. 120 miles in all this day, with a long stop in Princeton. I visited my friend Lisa in her office, had lunch with Howie and Arlene, and then went to Howie’s house to say hello to my boxes and play some cribbage. When you take Amtrak from Philadelphia to Princeton, you can see Trenton’s State Capitol building and its golden dome. But I never drive past it when I drive that route – and with people to see, I didn’t detour to explore it. Some day! Now that one IS more accessible. Note – no Thomas Sweet ice cream on this trip, so I haven’t had it every time.

The day ended in Woodcliff Lake – so it took over two weeks to get to Chicago from California and two days to get from Chicago to the New York metropolitan area. Debbie had cleared her schedule, so I stayed for a few nights! More laundry, some planning of the next trip/s, a walk, some games, and generally seeing life in her world. It was particularly exciting to go to her post office; she had sent me articles every week and the postmen always asked about me, so it was nice to meet one of them!

And then on Saturday I drove the 25 miles to New York City, where I returned the car – six days, 1007 miles on this one. I didn’t feel all that well – maybe my travels were catching up to me – so I took it somewhat easy. Went with my sister and the family to Woodbury Common, a big outlet mall about an hour north of the city. Culture shock! Despite my sister telling me in no uncertain terms that I needed new clothes, I just wasn’t ready to shop (as I have said elsewhere, it was much easier in and after the Philippines, with my daily exposure to shopping malls). I had some appointments that my sister had set up for me, and I met my friends for the Annual Card Game.

On Tuesday, March 10 – after landing in Hawaii on January 15 and in Los Angeles on the 21st, after leaving LA on February 3, arriving in Chicago on February 19 and leaving Chicago on March 2 - I arrived in Southampton, my final resting place, at least for the time being. I consider this the beginning of the next chapter in the post-Peace Corps story. Then again, a week later I was off again, to DC and VA and Chicago and back to New York City, so I didn’t really settle in until the end of March. During that first week, I finally unpacked, did submit some applications for Peace Corps staff jobs to get something started, took walks and a bike ride, did homework for my Non-Profit Management course, and read more of Annals of the Former World – once I got to the friend part of the trip, I didn’t have much time for reading. I tried to find some balance between moving ahead and settling in, trying to get some focus and trying not to be overwhelmed, reintegrating into American culture and retaining some of the simple life I had in Morocco. But as I said, I didn’t have a lot of time to dwell on that, because soon I was traveling again.

And I didn’t spend a lot of 2009 in this transitional state, because a couple of weeks later, I noticed the Peace Corps Response opening in the Philippines and emailed to say I was interested. I had the interview on April 14 and the offer on the 15th. Even though it took a while to actually leave (from the original June 7 date to July 26), I knew I had a plan.

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