I finally got TimeHop and it’s got me thinking about the passing of time. Last week this little guy popped up on my TimeHop:
Three years ago this month I graduated from college! Which means eight years ago next month I graduated from high school and three months from now I will celebrate three years living in the Dominican Republic.
Time is funny. I remember when my time in Paraguay was wrapping up and I had two weeks left of my three month stay. I remember thinking that two weeks sounded like such a short amount of time. Only two weeks left in Paraguay! Better start staying goodbye. I also remember thinking that if I were to say, “I’m going to Paraguay for two weeks,” that would sound like such a long time. Paraguay for two weeks?! Wow. Good luck.
Three years doesn’t sound like nearly long enough. College feels like ages ago. My Dominican back-and-forth life feels like all there ever was and I’m trying to figure out why. Three years, after all, really isn’t that long. I think it feels like longer because time flies – not when you’re having fun but – when you’re comfortable. Now that I know how to pay my bills (by asking someone else to do it) and ride a motorcycle and order water and travel to my favorite city in the mountains, the time when I didn’t know how to do all of those things feels like a distant memory, one I would not be glad to return to.
Three years doesn’t sound like nearly long enough because I’m not the person I was three years ago. I’m not the teacher or the Spanish speaker or the friend I was three years ago. There seems to be a big difference between recent college grad 22 year old and third year teacher 25 year old. A difference that couldn’t possibly be the result of only three years.
I wonder what the next three years will bring and if the time will feel like enough to hold all of the change. Three years living internationally sounds impressive, doesn’t it? I think so. But three months living internationally sounds impressive, too.
The nature of this living internationally is one of change. Every year people come and go, the school grows, the laws change, the visas have to be obtained or renewed. Understanding increases, skill sets deepen and expand, and comfort starts to look like a possibility.
A friend, who had lived in the Dominican Republic for even longer than three years, said that at first when he traveled from here he would only think about how exciting it was in whatever new place he found himself. Then, afters year living in the DR, he found that traveling only made him miss home. The DR had become home.
How long does it take for a place to be home? I slept on the floor of a Sunday school classroom in a church in Brooklyn for ten weeks. That was enough for even an unfamiliar place like the Chinese side of the Sunset Park neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York City, New York to feel like home, to feel comfortable and familiar (while totally still full of surprises and so many unknowns).
I wonder if I’ve ever felt more at home than I do in my little one bedroom apartment. In December I will have lived here for a year and while I realize that’s still quite a ways off I’m looking forward to the anniversary. If I make it without moving it will be my first year without moving since I graduated high school.
Maybe time moves slower if you stay put. Maybe three years in the same apartment without all of the back and forth would’ve seemed like enough. Then again, three years in the same apartment without all of the back and forth wouldn’t have allowed for so much change.
In three and a half weeks my third year as a teacher at Las Palmas will come to an end. A week and a half later I will travel to Brooklyn for my fourth summer of being as much a part of YouthWork as possible without signing up for a whole summer. Two months after that I will start my fourth year as a teacher at Las Palmas.
Last night was Las Palmas’ preschool spring program. The babies all dressed up like birds and bees and butterflies and danced around to songs about springtime. It was adorable and hilarious and the power went out during the first song. I looked at the children who will be my students in August and thought about how little they were when I first starting teaching them English. I thought a lot happened in my life in the past three years. That’s nothing to how much a child changes from a three year old to a six year old.
There are never enough hours in a Saturday. Never enough hours to cram in enough reading and writing and Netflix watching. Time flies when you’re comfortable.