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16 March 2007 8:40pm Listening to: a David Gray mix I’m still not… - Angie's Peace Corps (Namibia) Adventure

Mar. 17th, 2007

05:25 am

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16 March 2007
Listening to: a David Gray mix

I’m still not really in the mood to write. I’m just not in the right mind set. Or perhaps it’s more like I feel that once I start writing, it will take me very very long to finish. But I still feel like I should write, atleast a bit. That way I can feel like I’m not repressing everything. The ironic thing is that I’m not repressing at all, I’m actually thinking about this too much. The problem is all these thoughts just fly through my mind, and I’m afraid that when I sit down to type it’ll all be too much.

Anyways. That car accident my friend Rute was in turned out to be pretty bad. And it wasn’t just Rute. It was Rute and a very good friend of hers, Karola, along with Karola’s brother & friend who had just flown in from Germany hours before the accident. The two guys had come to visit Karola. They were on their way back to Otavi (where Rute & Karola live & work) when one of the back tires of the car blew out. I’ve yet to see Rute, and communication in Namibia is difficult & expensive, so I will not have many more details about what happened & how until I go visit her next week.

Rute’s collar bone is broken. Her leg/s are gashed, if not broken. She’ll be in the hospital for a while. She can’t walk yet. It’ll be some time. But she will be able to walk. Karola is in worse shape. They are saying she may never walk again. The 2 guys- one (Karola’s bro) has recovered. The other is still in ICU but expected to recover.

Rute is, and has been from the very beginning of my Peace Corps life, my good friend. My best friend. She knows me just as well as my best friends back at home. We’ve been through one hell of a rollercoaster ride that is Peace Corps together. Karola is Rute’s other best friend, a friendship that was bound to happen since they were until very recently the only white non-Namibians in Otavi; dealing with some of the same challenges & ups & downs of working in a foreign land. I don’t know how to describe my own relationship with Karola. It is somewhere between an acquaintance & a friend. Certainly more than an acquaintance. We’ve all hung out together, I’ve met her parents, I’ve been to her house a number of times.

Both these ladies had been loving working in Africa. The only thing they each cited as the only difficulty in being so far from home (Rute’s from US, Karola from Germany) is feeling like you’re so far away & how it’s hard to imagine tragedy striking & one being so far from home. This had always been their only concern. But they felt that shouldn’t keep them from following their dreams. So they were both making plans to find work in Africa after this year. They were toying around w/ the idea of ending up in Mozambique. They had talked about how cool it’d be if they both ended up working there.

They are both good women. They both had so much going for them. They had dreams & plans. I don’t know what will happen to all their dreams & plans now. I don’t know if their desires have changed. Or if the realities at hand will determine that they must change. It is a fucking shame. That age old question keeps circling around my head, that question I’ve heard asked before many times:

Why do bad things happen to good people?

“Mine’s not a new story, but it is for me”. That’s a line from a song by The Fray. I think it perfectly captures my thoughts on the matter. These kinds of things happen every day, to people all over the world. Oshi li. It is true. Still, this is the first time I’ve ever had to deal w/ something like this on such a personal level. Tragedy has struck my family before, but that’s before I was old enough to know what was going on.

I don’t know if this happens to everyone when they experience that first tragedy that hits close to home, but it’s as if for the last few days I can just feel that innocence slipping away. You start to really think about things- about life, death, what’s important, what’s not, the things we take for granted. All that heavy stuff.

It’s funny how growth very often comes in an unexpected manner and at unexpected times. I knew by joining Peace Corps I’d experience some growth. But whenever I imagined growth in Peace Corps, I never imagined growth coming from facing a situation such as this one.

My heart hurts for Karola whose life is now turned-upside down. And my heart hurts for Rute because all her plans & hopes may now be out the window. But mostly because I know she is aching terribly for her good friend Karola. My own interpretation is that she’s struggling with the whole “survivor guilt” phenomenon. It’s the same thing as those few people who decided not to go to work, or who were late to work, at the World Trade Center on that black September 11, 2001 morning. Those who survived. Because I’m a psychology person I remember reading, hearing, & seeing the stories of the internal guilt that these survivors were dealing with. It’s a horrible place to be at emotionally & mentally. Feeling guilty that you survived while others didn’t, or in this case feeling guilty that you will be able to recover whereas your friend may never walk again. It’s a very cruel feeling.

Rute has to now be strong for Karola. And I have to be strong for Rute. It’s a role that neither of us has had to play before. Suddenly you’re just thrust into the role- and it doesn’t matter if you’re prepared for it or not. Whether you yourself are scared or not, whether or not you think you are capable, it is the duty of a friend to just take on the part and do the best you can with it.

This coming week I’m taking some time off work & going back to Windhoek, this time w/ no other agenda other than to be by my friends’ hospital bedside as long as possible. Wednesday (the 21) is Namibia’s Independence Day… happy 17th to Namibia. I was thinking of leaving that day cause it’d probably be easy to catch a ride to Whk, but I might just leave Tuesday & come back Saturday. I will only get to be w them about 4 days. It’s not much but it’s the best I can do given the circumstances. The only way Peace Corps would let me stay there for an extended period of time is if we were married. I’ll just have to go back in a couple weeks again.

I started writing an hour and a half ago. Not bad. I feel good. I think I managed to get my thoughts condensed & organized enough. It’s been therapeutic somehow.

Welp, til next time. Take care, & take it slowly.

Love & Peace.