I've began to lose count of the number of places I've been told that this would be the place I'd build friendships to last a lifetime. First it was high school, but no those friends won't last, my real friends were supposed to be found during the transitive years of my life spent at UW-La Crosse, college roommates and classmates, those would be the people that stuck. Then I grew up, got a job and moved half a world away, a place where I didn't expect to find friends, but now seven years later have people in my life I can't imagine being without. You may be seeing a trend here, my picking up and rearranging life, shuffling the daily occurrences, throwing in new challenges and obstacles, but the great thing about all of this is that with each new change comes a whole new set of friendships. In the first few weeks of my service, back in the days of training at our campus in Aurora, I began to doubt how close I would grow to my counterparts, something felt lacking, but the last six weeks have changed all of that, and I now know I've let some people into my life that will remain for years to come.
Two months ago, when I was told to pick a team of ten out of the 72 members of the Earth unit, I had a few names in mind, but also had to think of the overall team dynamic. How would these ten people work together? After a few hours of deliberation and discussion with my fellow team leaders our seven teams were selected and we were ready for round 1 and all the challenges that may or may not come along with it. My team hit it off immediately, despite a few minor hiccups and were excited for our trip to Texas and six weeks together assisting The Fuller Center Disaster Re-builders and their mission of improving homes and lives for members in Galveston County.
With the seven to 12 year age gap between the rest of the team and myself I was unsure of how the team dynamic would play out; I've always believed age is just a number, but I wasn't sure if that would translate the same when living with ten individuals hovering around the age of 20. I guess it helps that I've never really known my age, feeling comfortable with those both much younger and older than myself. Within our first few days together I was confident this was going to be a good six weeks, I just hoped it wasn't an initial high that would wear off.
Long story short, I love my team and have had an amazing six weeks with them. Of course there have been ups and downs, days of exhaustion and longing for a break, but mostly it's been fun. We've developed a rhythm, how we work together and usually are able to get along without disrupting that sync. Our team is full of different personalities, which don't always match all the time, but overall with having to live and work together for six weeks, I think we've done a damn fine job. We have faced challenges both on the work site and at home, working through differences in opinion, personalities, likes and dislikes, but have come through it all together.
The day I realized just how much I've come to adore my teammates and accept that I'm now the 'mother' of ten, was a few weeks ago standing in Aldi. Remembering that I had to get a certain cereal for Max, coffee for Jack and coconut milk for Lonna, I really did feel like a mom. Not only that, but I was enjoying the few hours of alone time I had while running errands, a few moments of peace and quite. Despite these motherly feelings though, more often than not I felt like one of them. I'm actually surprised at how often I was up late hanging out, rather than retreating to find quite, I guess that's just a testament to how much I enjoyed everyone's company.
Honestly though, I had so much fun with my round 1 team and I fear that the following rounds just won't match up. Thankfully, I was able to keep a few gems for my second round, but there are others I'm going to miss, hopefully they can come back to me round 3. I've now added another layer of friendships to my arsenal, another group to differentiate from the others. I've found myself trying to relate stories I realize their not privy to, shuffling in my brain between high school, college, Korea and other travel friends, remembering who knows who and what stories and jokes go where.
I could say it's a problem, but in reality it's a blessing. I'm lucky to have so many amazing people in my life, spanning such different backgrounds, ages, ethnicity and experience levels. My family has joked that I have friends everywhere I go, but sometimes that's not far from the truth. Upon learning about my round 2 project I realized I have a connection within 45 minutes of each location, Longmont CO and Festus MO. While my friend circle continues to grow I realize more and more how lucky I am for each and every person in it. Over the years, countries and miles not all of the friends I've made have stayed, only those with some meaning have managed to stick, and I can feel some of the people I've let in over the last few months will be around for a while.
A Year of Service
My life, being anything but predictable, has taken another turn. Rather than moving to Jeju, South Korea - my original plan for Fall '18, I'm going to test drive Denver, CO and its surroundings, an area people just keep telling me "I'd love".