Today is my 21st birthday. It is also the twelve day mark until I leave Peru. Perhaps it’s fitting that I have this great juxtaposition laid out before me, a quilted exhibition of celebration and sorrow. I have so much to say about my time in Peru, and yet so few ways to communicate what I’m feeling intelligibly. Peru has been a place of exploration for me, a place where I have unearthed cavernous curiosities and have struggled in the vast ocean of what it means to be who I am – what it means to be a part of this world in all of its glories and blemishes. When I began this experience, I thought I knew how lucky I was, how much privilege I was wielding to be able to have such an incredible opportunity. Today, having been consumed by all that this journey has been, both pleasant and uncomfortable, I am caught in a moment of breathless suspense. I no longer know for certain that I will ever be able to grasp the magnitude of my time in Peru, and I think that I’m beginning to become contented with that.
Some of my favorite experiences have been those that have made me think the most, the ones that have put me in a position of having to try to understand on a deeper level what my time in Peru means for myself and for the communities I’ve lived in. Of course, the people I’ve lived with have formed the most important community of all – the support network of people who have been struggling with some of the same challenges alongside me: 21 people (a special number to me today), living in close quarters (sometimes too close), and sharing moments of joy, pain, confusion, discovery, and love.
The places we’ve been together – they’re not something you can just tell people about.
The animals we’ve seen have been strange and wonderful.
But in the end, I think what I’ll miss most about Peru (okay, besides the juice in Pilcopata) is how I have been able to find so much richness where others may see a shortage, how much complexity is in every corner of every place, and how I have found stillness amidst so much life.