Our time here in Jamaica is winding down. CRAZY to think about. Has it really been two years? Yes. Yes it has. How can I tell? Because the young woman who just came to my house (she says she is 15), who lives in the neighborhood, most likely in the close by "captured ground" (government land)....... she just came by to beg me some money....... so she can take her 9th grade exams, she says. Sounds like a good reason, right? I've seen this girl around. Very personable, and articulate, and has a look in her eye that tells me she is a leader, for better or for worse has yet to be determined. But a leader! Until someone convinces her otherwise.........
She came by the yard one other time to say hi. I thought it a bit strange because I didn't invite her in, nor did she admit to any motive for stopping by other than to "check in". Not the norm around here, unless you are invited. "Yard" rules - not "my" rules. But she left as fast as she came, leaving me a bit perplexed. So when she came back today asking for money I wasn't surprised. That's when it happened. The reality of living in a place for two years. All my cognitive/emotional/social challenges experienced during these past 2 years - personal feelings of understanding, intolerance, clarity, perplexity, unconditional love, skepticism............ came to surface. And suddenly everything felt real. And I spoke from my heart, uninhibited by second guessing, and interested in only caring for this young individual in front of me, so full of life and capability......... and who also was in need of something real.
I never would have had the courage to have the discussion we shared two years ago, and rightfully so. I had no time here. But the courage to be real, developed through integration that only comes with time, is one of many things this Peace Corps experience has helped me to develop.