July 27, 2009

This may be God's country, but it's my country too.

Once again, I've failed at updating. I reckon that's a good sign, as it means I've been staying busy.

The Ranch is definitely more lively during the summer than other seasons. There are tons of volunteers here- around 50- so we never really stay bored. There are soccer games, ultimate frisbee games, power walking clubs(er. . .Mei and I power walk after work sometimes), reading groups, theme parties, swimming trips, movie nights, etc. You name it, we do it. I feel like when I got to the ranch, my expectations of the pace were met- it was laid back and slow. Although it still remains laid back, it is definitely not slow. If I wanted to, I could be on the go at all times. Luckily my house is full of wonderful people and fun activities, so I mostly stick around Nearside. The end of the season has made things even more chaotic; as people leave, the parties and goodbyes grow more frequent. It reminds me of graduation season, since everybody is having a potluck or get together before they head off on their next journey.

My house has changed even more since my last update. William is gone on an adventure across New England. We now have Michal from Poland living in the Suite. We were all nervous that he would change the dynamic, but he blends in perfectly. It's really neat to hear his insights on American culture and the Ranch. I've often talked to Josh, one of the volunteers from Germany, about the differences in culture, but I feel like Michal's comparisons are a little more drastic. He's awesome, though. When we picked him up from the airport, he said "Oh, what's up? Listen to me, I sound so American." I just love him. Chance has also moved out of 'The Otherside' (or the shed) and is now sleeping indoors. I seriously hit the roommate jackpot, and can only hope that I am this lucky in New York.

I flitted off to New Jersey for a week to escape the 100-degree weather. I was able to see some old friends from the campaign, and also meet some new ones. When I got back I expected to be greeted by the same intense humidity I left. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I walked off the plane on the 5th of July to 80-degree weather. It has been steadily cool since then, too, and for that I am thankful. My friend Adam (who came to visit last weekend) claims he put in some favors to get the nice weather, but I really think Mother Nature knew we needed a break from the intense heat.

Not only did I get a visit from a good friend last weekend, but I was able to visit my brother and new sister in Nashville. I really needed some family time, so the trip was really fun. It was neat to learn about their new life together while seeing some sights. I did not eat BBQ in Memphis on the drive back though, which I sorely regret.

It seems that I'm really bad at staying in one place this summer. I'm rarely on the Ranch during my days off anymore- I'm off traveling the country visiting friends while I have the chance. That restlessness may be contributing to my bizarre emotions lately. I've always been a sap, but lately I can't cry. Not in my favorite movie, not while reading my favorite book, not for anything. I would say that I'm dead inside, but that is simply not the case. I've been feeling the need to cry, and I'll even tear up a little, but the tears will never actually fall. It's a terrible, terrible feeling to not be able to cry. I think it may be due to the fact that I haven't really had any roots this past year. It's fun to go off on new adventures and meet new people, but it's also very nice to have familiarity mixed in with that adventure. The phone and visits can only do so much, but I feel like my next year-long stint will be good for me. I'll be able to settle down a bit while meeting new people every day.

This Sunday was my first day off in quite some time that I just vegged. I got up, changed into a more comfy set of pajamas, and watched cartoons all day. It was pleasant, and I savored every moment of it. Unfortunately it was mostly due to an injury to the knee that occurred Saturday night while on a bike ride. The abrasion has finally scabbed over, but now it is swollen and extremely sore. I'm getting ancy, as I haven't really been able to walk in the past few days, and am hoping that it gets better soon. I'm heading home this weekend, and a six-hour drive with a bum knee does not sound pleasant.

I feel kind of weird preparing to leave. I have a few bags packed already, and am starting to say all of my goodbyes. This has been my home for half of one year. I know the ins and outs of Nearside, of the Ranch, of central Arkansas. I've just now established myself as a member of this community, and it is weird to leave that all behind. I would like to say that it was more difficult leaving my home in Missouri the last few times this year, but I'm not so sure. I have set up my own network, my own room, my own life here. When you work hard to do something for yourself, it really is more difficult to let it go.

Enough of that sappy hog-wash. I still have a few more weeks here, and I plan on living it up while I can. I hope to be taking Arkansas, and the Ranch, for a crazy ride.

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