Thursday, February 18, 2010
Guilt and Gratitude
When we left for Samoa our friends and family could not have been more supportive. We had pared down everything we owned to fit in the bed of a pick-up truck and then we left those precious few possessions with our parents. Some in my parents' closets, some in Cale's mom and Milton's extra bedroom, my quilt collection to Cale's dad and stepmom, Cale's tools with Josh and Charlotte. Rob and Jason agreed to care for the other living member of our family, our cat Smack, for two years. Even though we have returned to America, he still lives with Rob and April, as we have no where to keep him now. My dad became our power-of-attorney. We left him with a checkbook and a debit card and the charge of our personal fortune (a couple thousand dollars).
This support continued for the next two years. We were at the top of the list of most frequent package receivers. Granola bars and tea and other reminders of home found their way to us quite frequently. Cale's mom came to visit and fed us delicious food, bought me a tattoo and gifted Cale's school with a camera and saw blades and more. My parents came to visit and fed us delicious food, bought Cale a tattoo and gifted my school with a camera and hard drive and more. My mom raised money from friends and family and sent us 35 thumb drives in the mail for our thumb drive drive. Every time my dad received a bill for my student loan in the mail he paid it, out of his account, even though I told him not to, even though it was in forbearance and he decreased my student loan while I was a way...something I had expected would increase while I was gone because the interest was still accruing.
From thousands of miles away our friends and family did all they could for us. Taking our calls and emails and responding right away to our strange, distant requests.
Then we came home and they didn't stop.
We've stayed at my parents' house rent free for the last two months and will continue to for the next two. I know their utilities have gone up because they raised the temperature in the house to 70 for our poor frozen bodies and we have a space heater on in our bedroom constantly. We eat their food (I replaced that entire box of Wheat Thins I ate in one sitting) and watch their TV and occasionally borrow their car. Cale's mom gave us her Jeep Cherokee to drive the first month we were home. After the first snow, she had to drive to her patients' homes in her Corolla because we had her four-wheel drive vehicle in Indy. Then April gave us her Jeep Wrangler. Let me repeat myself. April GAVE us her Jeep. I am still having a hard time wrapping my head around this one. Granted, she had another car she was trading in for a new car and she didn't want or drive the Jeep anymore. But to just give it away? Mind-boggling. For some strange reason, I find that harder to understand than giving up two years of your life to join the Peace Corps (though I don't consider it giving up two years).
I have never been good at getting presents. I like to give gifts way more than I like to get gifts. It is a purely selfish thing. I like the way it feels to give people presents (especially when they are good ones). I am overwhelmed by all these people doing nice things for me. I am incredibly grateful, but I am also a little bit guilty. I feel as if I am cheating a little. We could pay our own rent and buy our own car. We have a little money and jobs. But we are saving all the money to on an awesome trip to Southeast Asia. Every time someone pays for me because I am the penniless, returned Peace Corps I feel a little guilty. You bought me dinner, I just bought a new lens so I can take pictures of temples.
I guess this all boils down to the one thing that I have been meaning to say and that I haven't said enough:
Thanks guys. You are all great and appreciated. We love you all.
Posted by Cale