A Great Poem
“…And your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body…” — Walt Whitman
The last four weeks have seen those pulchritudinous words borne forth over and over, winging me home and back again across the 10,000-mile journey in a flutter and flurry of life. I feel as if I hardly had time to breathe, yet I am full of life.
I want to thank everyone who donated to the KLM Foundation on my behalf. Together, you raised almost R10,000 for their annual scholarship – bringing me in second place for most funds raised out of almost 100 PCVs! Ari, Kira, Bonnie, Paul, Ben, Lindsey, Greg, Kim, Peter, Josie, Sally, Jesse, Maria, and Anonymous: I am grateful for your generosity.
Moreover, your support and warm wishes inspired me to give the Longtom Half Marathon my all, and I finished almost 10 minutes faster than my time last year, coming in third place out of all the PCVs running (though certainly not for the marathon in general!). My deepest appreciation to everyone who encouraged me during training and on the day of.
And then there was America: I could not have asked for a warmer homecoming.
They say you should know who your true friends are. Well, Peace Corps brings into sharp relief the differentiation between the casual and the close. And though it is true that as time goes along, friends change along with the rest of life, it is comforting to know that some do not.
Thank you to the former colleagues and friends in New York who went out of their way to welcome me home with open arms (and apartments), good sushi, cold beer, tasty hoagies, and tall pitchers. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done to get on that plane a second time. I am glad for the time spent with those that made it out and greatly look forward to seeing those in September that I missed.
The same goes for the good folks of Portland, California, and Arizona who made everything from extra time to road trips on my behalf. You sure know how to make a guy feel loved. I relished our conversations, seeing the lives you’ve built, and simply sharing a beer over a few calm moments. And to the wizened few who long ago left the title of teacher behind and became mentors, I’m privileged to count you as friends.
For a man who has, at times, felt slightly out of sync with the world around him, it is humbling to have such steady friends as you. Thanks for loving me for who I am, replete with my exuberances, splenetic outbursts, and all manner of miscreant behavior. For your friendship, which is my lifeblood, I am ever grateful.
My little brother and I saw our older brother and his wife off on their honeymoon a week ago today. Their wedding was the stuff of fairytales, their love and devotion legendary. I am happy for them in a manner and magnitude previously unknown to me and look forward to sharing in the beautiful future they’re building together.
To my family and friends, in New York, California, Connecticut, Park City, Portland, Detroit, Arizona, Virginia, and (yes, even) New Jersey: as Whitman remarks above, thank you for adding to the fluency of my own poem.