All kinds of things

Essentials: On the plane next to me was a girl from the UK spending a month in Belize and then a month in Fiji doing some kind of medical internship. On the other side was a lady from Belize City who told the med student and me everything we need to know about Belize City. She had been visiting her daughter in Florida and thought it was hilarious that we came from the UK and the US to study in Belize, and her daughter left Belize to study in the States. She wrote out her address and phone number on an index card and gave one to each of us. She told us to call if we need anything, like lunch in Belize City. We’ll go out, she said. Unless it’s hot, then we’ll order in.

After spending an hour in baggage claim and immigration, and another 15 minutes with no power—200 of us clamoring for carts and luggage and air—somehow the three of us landed right back in a row in the customs line and were able to say goodbye as our personal items were spread on a table for all to see.

Onward!

The minute I caught that first campfire and coconut smell and saw my first raccoon on a chain in the back of a truck (what?!) I knew I was home.

Racoon

David picked me up, and when I turned to thank the baggage guy, he was climbing in the front seat**. That’s Belize. Your luggage guy is your neighbor. The postal guy is your grandpa. The checkpoint guard is your cousin. **This guy would turn out to be Antonia’s principal at a new school 2 years from that point, and a good pal of mine.

We took off down the Western Highway at sunset—my exact favorite way to drive the Western Highway—and an interesting topic came up. I learned that the city is having a meeting tomorrow about a dam that was built a few years ago. It was contested by the Belize Zoo lady, along with many different environmental groups, and pushed forward by the electric company, the Belizean government, and those who wanted Belize’s electricity to come from Belize, not Mexico. The only problem was the entire dam. Environmentalists warned that the rock wouldn’t hold, the river would suffer, the quality of the water would decline, energy prices would go up, and the flooding would kill off the Scarlet Macaw (side note: The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw is a must-read. It’s a story about the Belize Zoo lady who fought against the dam, and the rich descriptions of the Belizean government and the people here are unbelievable. It’s full of history about Belize and Cayo District. And the author is funny. His first impression of Belize City had something to do with a pedal-by shooting.) Anyway, I read this book before I came, got really into the dam issue and had meant to ask about it, then right there out of nowhere, David brought it up. He said they were calling a village meeting to discuss the dam. Apparently the water is orange. The orange water is downstream from the dam, right in San Ignacio. This is the water they bathe in, play in, clean with, wash clothes and dishes in… It has something to do with the chemical makeup and silt that have filtered out and around the dam, and worse, in order to remove or fix the dam, they’d have to release the wall, which would flood all of San Ignacio and the surrounding valley villages, like Santa Familia. David said they came around this week to the villages with a blue siren and said: If you hear this sound, you have 2 hours to get out before the flood comes. Omg. I just knew that Zoo Lady was right!

I arrived in Santa Familila to a welcome surprise, and also termite season in my room. Antonia, Ricardo and Inez had spent the day rearranging all the rooms so Inez and I could be roomies and each have a bed in the room that doesn’t rain!

Welcome1

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Before I could even unpack or think about how tired I was, they whisked me off to the Miss Bullet Tree pageant.

(I am trying to upload a video of a punta dancer, but it’s taking forever…)

Sunday I went to church, and then to Guatemala in the back of a pickup truck, then squeezed into a cab with 6 people and spent an hour in the Melchor hospital. Richard (the son of the principal I am staying with) had a cough that wouldn’t lift because of the dusty roads and needed to see a doctor today for asthma. But there are no doctors in Cayo on Sundays, and so we had to cross the border. There are apparently also no doctors in Melchor on Sundays, which is how we ended up in the hospital. He got his treatment, and I bought all my little Belize gifts for you all at 1/3 price from the Gulatemalans. Finally a Guatemala stamp in my passport… although I’ve already been to Melchor. Figure that one out. Wink!

Today I am supposed to meet with my supervisor and she will accompany me to Mary Open Doors to begin the internship. But I have not been able to reach anyone. None of us have ever met each other, and the last contact I had with them was 2 weeks ago, by email. I still took (read: chased after) the 8 o’clock bus, and if I have to hang around the French bakery eating Mennonite cookies until I figure something out, so be it.

I have a phone number, and I will soon have a phone- hopefully by the end of the day. I can receive calls for free, but your carrier will charge you for the international call. I can make calls sometimes. And I can text sometimes.

My phone number is: 011-501-621-8102.

If you see this number, answer it! It’s me.

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It’s about that time again.

I have to tell you three things:

1. I have a boyfriend. That’s both ‘boy and ‘friend’ in the same word. I do not have to pay a monthly boyfriend fee. It’s totally voluntary in his part.

2. I’m graduating this year! Not in May, but in December. I have been working toward my Master’s Degree in Social Work at Tulane University in New Orleans. I’ve had the best experience doing individual and group grief and trauma counseling in the Recovery School District with kids who are experiencing stress due to having witnessed a violent crime or having been through Hurricane Katrina.

3. As my culminating capstone experience, I will be taking this grief/trauma model to Belize in August and implementing it in a grassroots Domestic Violence shelter. I’m dying to tell you the story of how this whole thing came about, but it would be impossible and annoying to make you read a 5 page letter, so I’m just going to list the facts:

  • I went to Belize in the fall with CFI. A team member saw “Open Doors” on a storefront. Team member said, “Hey, we have an Open Doors food bank in Westfield! Let’s see what this place is!” Team drove around for an hour trying to re-find Open Doors. Couldn’t be found. Gave up. Went back to hotel. Front desk lady said her aunt works for Open Doors and lives right behind hotel. Open Doors Lady came over after dinner to talk. Open doors lady has a name: Marilyn.
  • Turns out, Open Doors is a domestic violence shelter in San Ignacio that was just opened last February. It’s only the second safe shelter in the entire country. One woman walked miles from three villages over on a broken foot, broken hip, and broken hand carrying a baby and a three-year-old with a broken arm.
  • Marilyn and her friend, Anna, started Open Doors to provide support and help for the women who come in, but they have no idea what to do with the kids, many of whom are imitating violence and showing significant distress.
  • I have been trained in how to help and treat kids who had witnessed ongoing, traumatic violence in New Orleans. I felt the tug to find a way to bring the New Orleans program to this shelter and train the shelter staff.
  • I went back to Tulane over Thanksgiving break and proposed the program. Tulane pulled strings to get me into the International Program, but said I’d have to find someone in the country to supervise me.
  • I called Open Doors. Marilyn said she had a student was working with her, and I should talk to the student. The student wasn’t there. Dead end. Student walked into the office as we were hanging up. Marilyn handed over the phone. I couldn’t hear the student because of a bad connection and only 1 minute on my phone card. I asked for student’s email address to e-mail questions. Student said: Melissa@TULANE.edu. As in, TULANE UNIVERSITY, my school in New Orleans!! She (Melissa) is a cultural anthropology doctorate student and has been doing research on domestic violence in Belize since 2002. She will be leaving in July. I’ll come in August. A seamless transition.
  • Even in the retelling of this, I feel unable to express God’s clear and shining presence in all our lives in that moment—Marilyn, the Tulane student, me and the kids who need services. All of our lives intersected in the realization of that little email address, and God’s plan became clear and undeniable to all of us. Everything we’d wondered on and off before—why I was at Tulane of all places, why Melissa was in San Ignacio of all places, why Dave (the team member) had insisted on finding Open Doors that day, that the front desk lady happened to be the niece of Marilyn, and that their exact need was my exact training—it all came together. God makes me cry, He is so perfect and organized. Sigh.

In addition to this project, I’ll be continuing the AIDS/HIV prevention programming I did last fall in the schools, and starting a mentoring program through CFI to match up the Standard 5 and 6 girls with “big-sister” type women in the States. These women will hopefully serve as pen-pals and supports, and will be a source of encouragement for the girls to continue their schooling past primary school.

Please know that if you’ve been involved in any of this Belize business for the past few years by supporting or encouraging in ANY way, this opportunity could not have come together without you. Although I am certain God would have met their needs with or without me, I appreciate your willingness to serve through prayer and financial support so that we could all be a part of it.

I’m working hard to fund the projects through student loans and corporate sponsors, however, if you feel particularly drawn to any of these upcoming fall projects, I’d love your prayer and support. The total cost of all three projects is $3,900 and if you’d like to contribute, it can be done in three ways:

• Make a check out to CFI with “Brooke Wilson” in memo line and mail to: CFI, 448 Leeds Circle, Carmel, IN 46032 (this method is tax deductible)

• Go to CFI website and contribute online (this method is also tax deductible): http://www.cfikids.com- designate to “Brooke Wilson”

• Make a check out to Brooke Wilson (this method is NOT tax deductible): email me

I hope you get a sense of my heart and my calling through this letter. It’s hard to put into words, but I feel blessed through this opportunity and want to help with the skills I’ve been given.

The end!

Brooke Wilson
brkwilson@gmail.com
http://www.brkwilson.blogspot.com

2008, we did the best we could.


January
Moved to Belize. *Carry-on bag wouldn’t fit in the overhead compartment. Attendant made me take out bulge on top, which happened to be a Ziploc gallon-sized bag of underwear. Held underwear on lap for duration of the flight.

Lived on an Iguana reserve. Learned how to do laundry with a hose. Experienced Belizean wedding and funeral in the same week. Set out to teach everything I knew about conflict resolution, drugs, and AIDS. Learned everything I know about love. Got accepted into grad school.

February Caught a parasite, hiked to the top of a ruin, swam in a cave, experienced my first Belizean election and confirmation. Fought a piñata. Lost.

March Overcame fear of spiders. Discovered a new love for choco-bananas. Played with a monkey. Met real Guatemalan Indians in Guatemala. Bought skirt from them. Watched the Ruta Maya river race. Said goodbye to the Caribbean. Understood that life would never be the same.

April Got a niece! Heart opened a little wider. Fell in love with her.
Turned 27. Panicked. Cut my own bangs.

May Got another step-family. Danced! Celebrated! Laughed!
First laid eyes on my new city, New Orleans. Stabbed my foot with a parking lot spike.

June Went back to work at Boys and Girls Club. Happy to find that I still loved the kids. Got shingles. Thought I was dying.

July Sold everything I owned on Craigslist. Moved out of Fort Wayne (ten years!) Received Carrie Bradshaw as a parting gift.

August Moved to New Orleans. Found the two-story target, which I had previously thought was an urban legend. Took a family vacation to Destin. Came back. Became acquainted with city life. Loved it. Went to Tulane for student orientation after a month of waiting. Got evacuated for Gustav at lunch.

September Stayed evacuated for two and a half weeks. Went back to school. Dropped ten pounds for lack of friends.

October Made friends! Gained ten pounds. Heard that Taylor Fort Wayne would be closing. Felt orphaned. Dressed up like a ninja and fought pirates on Jackson square.

November Watched history unfold in the TSSW building with snacks and wine. Found out Bry and Jess are pregnant again. Went to Belize. Delivered school supplies. Painted a cafeteria. Provided flood relief with two armed guards on the Guatemalan border. Became acquainted with Big Mac and Quarter Pounder, the tarantulas. Realized I had not overcome fear of spiders. Had the sweetest reunions I could ever imagine at San Marcos School.

Learned that a plan is usually unfolding around me even when I am not still or patient enough to see it. Discovered that if I feel lost even for a second, all I have to do is ask for help. Understood the beauty in a prayer that goes, “Hi God, I’m an idiot and I don’t trust myself. Could you make this one clear for me?” Trusted completely. Found out I am purposed. Convinced Tulane I am purposed. Doing last semester internship in Belize!

December Wrote a thousand papers. Failed a final. Got all A’s!
Watched snow fall in New Orleans. Saw Lily take her first 3 steps.
Went to Chicago. Smile.

I’ve heard its going around

Here’s the thing. I’m back from Belize, and I think I may have been born in the wrong country. Also, I might be living in the wrong city. It’s possible that I am totally lost in the world.

I have been so disoriented since arriving home Tuesday that I’ve done things like: pack up all my power cords and homework and earphones and books to do homework at the coffee shop, but left the computer at home.

Yesterday I could hear people talking, but when they walked away I looked around and realized I hadn’t heard a word they said. This was me all day: So, we are having class in room 103 today? So, what’s going to be on the quiz? So, when is that due? Wait. What article was it? Was I supposed to write that down?

Also, I sneezed while reaching for a cabinet on Wednesday and totally threw out my neck and back. I couldn’t move my left side or lift my left arm past 45% or turn my neck in any direction. My classmates kept saying I had a stroke or meningitis. I totally believed them because I’m prone to hypochondria. But deep down I knew I had the what-am-I-doing-here-I-don’t-know-anybody-this-is-not-my-home-plus-I-hate-homework-and-am-desperately-heartsick-for-my-hilarious-and-warm-Belizey-family…or-at-least-that-other-family-in-Indianapolis…you-know-the-blood-relatives… virus.

I’ve heard it’s going around.

So, at 4:30, I propped up all my little pillows around my left back and watched Christmas movies and Belize videos until I fell asleep sometime around 10. I have decided that this business of caring for people is hard. There are always goodbyes. And yes, they’re followed by hellos, but then usually goodbyes again. I don’t really feel at home anywhere. My foot is in two states and my heart is in two countries.

My friend Steph said: Brooke, welcome home to wherever you are hanging your fanny pack today. (Steph, for your information it’s a rugged Eddie Bauer bag.) But then she quoted Hebrews 11, reminding me to live in the light of eternity and as a comforting reminder that someone is saying, I’ll leave the light on for you:

Hebrews 11
9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God… 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Tonight, I live in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, Earth. I only have a few videos connecting me to some of my favorite places and people and moments everywhere else, but I’ll share them with you if you’ll have them:

Ricardo singing at the Teacher party

Election night with Inez and Antonia when UDP won

Standing on the balcony at Cahal Pech singing “Somewhere out there” with Ashley and Kenz to the village…

Teasing Bryon, and the kids.
(Don’t get mad, you guys. I just miss you and your weird fear of cameras.)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one

I wrote an article for CFI.
It’s mostly everything I’ve already said in one post or another, but I feel compelled to share.
If you get through it, I promise colorful binders in the next post.

(On re-entry from Belize)

Doc: Hello Ms. Wilson, It’s time for your two-month check-in. How do you feel? Are you reintegrating? Adjusting well? Back to normal?
Me: Hang on. The zookeeper is trying to drag me out of the rainforest dome.

Two months ago my life was full of coconuts and lime, pick-up trucks, 90-degree days, meandering walks and dirt roads.

Today my life is filled with things it was missing in Santa Familia, like 8-lane highways and Starbucks and Fruit Loops and Grey’s Anatomy and 49 different kinds of Paul Mitchell styling products. Oh, and deliciously delicious Oreos- all of which disguise themselves as happiness.

But right in the middle is a gaping hole called “community” and another called “family” and one called “Antonia’s Kitchen” and a few more little ones called “good weather” and “sweet limes” and “dollar ice-cream cones”.

I have resigned to the fact that when I take a group of kids to the zoo, like I did on Saturday, and we walk into the Tropical Rainforest Dome, I’ll want to cry—and not just because the kids aren’t interested about the time I lived in a rainforest, but because I know in the deepest part of my heart that no matter how much money I make, or how many friends I have, or how many degrees I earn, I will never have the quality of life I had in the village for those short few months.

When I see birds or monkeys behind a cage in the zoo, I automatically think of Ronnel pointing out a toucan on the way to the sinkhole and feeding jackfruit to this little spider monkey our neighbors had in the village.

One of my favorite memories will always be that half-an-hour between dusk and total darkness when Inez and I would walk to the shop for a dollar ice cream cone or a Snickers or in search of hard-to-find flour.

Daily, those little triggers open this giant door inside called “My Other Life” and I wonder what they’re all doing there in Belize—what the weather is like, what the village gossip is. I can almost feel the sun and the breeze, the warmth, the sweet smell of coconut and campfire, and I can picture myself sitting with Ms. Mig on the back stoop peeling sweet limes.

Tonight, I’d give anything to hear Antonia’s deep laughter in the kitchen. I’d love to walk to the store with Inez. I’d love to flop down on David’s couch and catch up with Nelly.

Sometimes the best I can do is go to the zoo.

Belizean Cuisizean Saturday

Hey you guys. Thanks for all the kind words in response to my SOS.
It turns out, people love.

(And while I’m at it, thanks for the gentle nudging to put down the Oreos. Thanks to Kenzie for wrestling me to the floor over a second slice of chocolate cream pie. And thanks to Sprinky for holding her back while I ate it off the floor.)

I have a few things to report, including reflections on my new hair color, the status of Samantha and Jon (my parasites) and pictures of our spectacular Belizean Cuisizean Saturday. But first I want to share a couple of insights from encouraging e-mails I received this week. Consider it eavesdropping. It’s much more fun that way.

God is good! He doesn’t leave us where we are to wallow in our pity. He shows us how to find love, joy and peace. He is where you are.

Did you guys know about this? God is right here in my extra twin bed at my dad’s in Indianapolis AND he is next to Inez and Bryon and Antonia and David in their beds in Belize whispering us all to sleep. I just love that about God. It’s enough to make me want to stand on my dad’s balcony and sing “Somewhere Out There” to the moon. But he doesn’t have a balcony, and his porch faces the pool. So that option is out.

Next.

You’re right. We’ve got lots of things really screwy. We’ll probably never get them unscrewed. Our “progress” has come at a cost.

Interesting insight. I’d like to counter it with the John Legend song that always makes me cry in the hopes that it’s actually true:

I still believe that-
We’ll get it right again

We’ll come back to life again

We won’t say another goodbye again

You’ll live forever with me

Someday, we’ll be together…

Unfortunately, I don’t think this will be fulfilled until we are all sitting on heaven’s curbs eating calorie-free ice cream and cheesy potatoes together. Steven (my step-boo) wrote something last fall. I hope I am not taking this out of context, but it struck me when I read it and has stayed with me ever since— especially in light of my visit with Hannah yesterday and the time we spent remembering Katie, and in the wake of the Cerak/Van Ryn family tragedy:

This is what heaven will be for us. It is a journey we should look forward to with great anticipation knowing that we will not be disappointed as we round that last bend and see it all unfold in front of us. There will be the laughter of those we love most, the old friends we’ve not seen in years, even those we have known in our hearts but have never seen with our eyes, they will all be there. There will be peace and comfort and every earthly pain we have felt, every bit of sadness and heartache, they will all be gone forever. It will be family and friends and life and love and it will be unlike anything we could ever have imagined but it will be just as we had always hoped. It will be perfect.

And the coffee…

I love the part about the coffee. Thanks for letting me share, Boo.

The thing is, I had ice-cream with my old best friends last night.

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These three saved my life once, literally. Tonight, they just reminded me that we really can reconnect even after 10 years. It gave me a sliver of what heaven might be like, because I couldn’t have pieced together better company, better conversation or better dessert. Unless, maybe, it had been Chocolate Odessey 2001.

Which leads me to my next comment:

No matter how much we want it and how much we miss it and how much we beg, Baskin Robbins is never bringing back Chocolate Odyssey 2001.

Well. I am starting a prayer chain calendar for a 2010 comeback. Who wants April?

Great. Moving on.

This is important, as Bryan would not let me touch the baby unless I had a note from my doctor:

I am parasite free!

I spent an exhaustive 3 days at the Doctor getting tested for things like TB, and making sure all my little parasites and E. Coli were gone, which involved a very intricate stool sampling kit. In Belize, they just handed me a container and told me to eat some burritos, walk around and come back with a full jar at 2. Here, I was totally confused by the take-home kit they gave me, and I’m sure Sprinky was thrilled to find the little container labeled “refrigerate” in the back corner when she reached for her Las Lomas leftovers.

Hil-air.

Anyway, the TB test came back negative and the chest x-rays are clear. Whew!

Tomorrow is the welcome home celebration with CFI & my Belize team from last fall. Lisa, Mackenzie and I spent the day experimenting with all our favorite delicious dishes from Belize. I like to call it Belizean Cuisizean Saturday.

The results were fantastic! (Except for the tortillas, which looked like tiny little weird ovals. Antonia warned me this would happen if I didn’t practice. She also frequently sent me out back to pick cilantro from the grass and said I always came back with the leaves that would kill us.)

So, who wants to try my special cilantro salad?

Here are some pictures of the day. I WILL be recreating this event in Fort Wayne, so friends beware. You’ll be receiving an invite shortly.

The international isle at Wal-mart. Actually, we just think this picture is funny because it looks like I am caught red-handed trying to hide, like, a pack of Oreos under the rice and beans, drunk.

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Tortilla mixing

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Result

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Quote of the day: “Yeah, but I think she would say my balls are just too small.”

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Empanadas (I realize taking pictures of food puts me on the same page as my Great Aunt Gwen, but I am just proud, okay? Cut me some slack.)

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Garnaches

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One out of one Randys found our food deliciously satisfying.

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This was a trial run. Stay tuned for the real thing tomorrow at 2:30/1:30 central.

Thanks again for the support this week. I mean it.

Oh!
I almost forgot the funniest thing. Hannah colored my hair yesterday. We got rid of the highlights and took it back to my natural color, black. You’d think it was a simple procedure, but, actually, there are a million shades of black. This one is dark. I loved it at first. But now (maybe it’s just because I’ve had sun-streaked hair for over a year) I sort of feel like the Wicked Witch. Especially when toddlers look at me and then start crying. I’m just sayin.

Week Twelve: SOS

I’m drowning in Fruit Loops and America’s Next Top Model.

It’s killing me, literally. I may have turned diabetic this week for lack of self-control and the abundance of Oreos and Milano cookies. I turned down lunch at the Indian buffet today, because yesterday I ate my weight in cheesy potatoes and didn’t think I could be trusted at a buffet.

Also, I spent 5 hours in the eye-shadow section at Ulta and tried to buy shampoo a few times with a 20% off coupon and finally settled on the Paul Mitchell Color Care line with a buy 2 get 1 free option, but gave up after not being able to pick the third product.

I guess you could say I am overwhelmed with the overabundance of food and hair product options.

After a complete meltdown on Sunday, it took a full 24 hours to figure out what was really going on.

Here it is: There are holes in my life that can’t be filled with Paul Mitchell Color Care Detangling Conditioner or cheesy potatoes, even though I am thankful for those things and love them with all my heart on a normal day.

I have come to the sad realization that we have everything backwards.

I was upset on Sunday because my family jumped through hoops to get to the right church (out of hundreds in the city) at the right time (out of 8 services) to meet my brother and sister-in-law, who didn’t even show up or call to tell us they weren’t coming.

In Santa Familia there is one church with one service, and your brother lives 5 houses down. Not everyone has cars. Most people just walk. And if Antonia doesn’t show up, Father Foley goes to her house for lunch—just to make sure everything is okay. Most people go to church if only to make sure Father Foley doesn’t show up for lunch.

As I settled in on Sunday afternoon with my bag of Oreos and the Disney Channel (don’t judge), I understood that no matter how many cereals I can choose from, or how many Salon Style conditioners I get to use, no matter how great it feels to drive around 8-lane highways in my shiny SUV, passing two malls and 15 Starbucks, I will never have the quality of life I had in the village for those short few months.

My entire family will never live on one street; I’ll never be within walking distance from everyone I’ve ever known; my best friends are not my cousins or my nieces or my back-door neighbors.

Kids there have 15 moms and 15 dads—aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends. It was so cute to watch David’s eight-year-old son curl up in Imanuel or Ricardo’s lap, and to watch Juliet be passed around the church from aunt to aunt to cousin to cousin (though it was sort of embarrassing when she woke up while I was holding her, took one look at me, and wailed like she had been abandoned at the local homeless shelter).

I’ll probably never speak 3 languages or enjoy a fresh orange or a chocolate-chip ice cream cone as meaningfully and effortlessly as I did with Inez and Frances— though my cherished single-dip cones on the curb of Ben & Jerry’s and Baskin Robbins with Bec and Sprinky rival.

But that’s my point. Happy, simple meaningful moments are rare and hard to come by here, which is why they are etched into my memory and logged as happy places for me. It was never about the ice cream (except that one year when they had Chocolate Oddessy 2001). It was 20 uninterrupted minutes on the curb with my good friends.

In the village, moments like that happened all the time. Nobody had anywhere to rush off to. My time there was a thousand simple, meaningful moments strung together into days and weeks. One of my favorite memories will always be that half-an-hour between dusk and total darkness when Inez and I would walk to the shop for an ice cream or a snickers or in search of hard-to-find flour. It was just nice to be with her, and to not have anything else to do but walk around together.

Now I have no choice but to settle for The GAP and America’s Next Top Model in lieu of everything my heart really wants—community, an entire Sunday afternoon with all my friends and family in one place (can you even imagine it—all your best friends and family together in one location, for LIFE?)

My friends and I used to joke about living in a commune.

In the village, they have that. They have community. Not as a concept or a small-group idea. But as their actual life.

We have water, Tyra Banks, paved roads, Fruit Loops and Paul Mitchell.

(And we think we’re the lucky ones.)

I agree: in some ways, we’re privileged. I feel blessed to live where I live with the opportunities that have been given to me. Even after village life, I don’t feel guilty for loving Target. Or TV. Or the mall. But more than privileged, I would argue that, mostly, we’re distracted. And I sort of feel sorry for us. I think we are distracted in order to not be depressed.

For example. On Sunday, when family plans fell through, I got my tall-nonfat-sugar-free-caramel-macchiato, sat down with a handful of Oreos and the Disney Channel (don’t judge), periodically checked my Macbook for emails, and when there were no emails, I downloaded new songs on iTunes.

So I enjoyed a day of first world conveniences. But only as a filler for what I really wanted, which was to hang out with my brother, or chat with friends, or, in the deepest part of my heart, be celebrating Easter with everyone in Santa Familia.

Moments:

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“Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good.”

For Good
Steven Schwartz