Sunday, May 17, 2009


Last Wednesday, Joris and I picked up our friend May, who was in town for a work conference and was able to take some vacation time in order to hang out with us.

May lived and taught in Jaluit, Jaluit, the small and only other town connected to the island of Jabor, where Jacob and I were during our time in the Marshall Islands . Most weekends, May would take the hour and a half bike trip up to Jabor to spend the weekend with us, to which we always looked forward. We would play Settlers, make 'fancy' food (i.e. use more than 2 ingredients in meals) and the three of us watched the entire first season of Lost huddled around the 2 inch ipod screen.

We had not seen May since our goodbyes in Majuro, which, to our horror turns out to be almost three years ago already! But even though it was an entire toddler plus a pregnancy ago, events that have pretty seriously altered our lives, it was immediately oddly comfortable and familiar to have May around again and we all thoroughly enjoyed her visit. Joris became infatuated with her pretty quickly, snubbing me in order to get May's attention; he wanted to hold her hand and go down the slide with her - it was pretty hilarious.

We got to enjoy some Seattle sightseeing and hit some local highlights like Cafe Vita, the Fremont Troll, Gasworks Park, Carkeek Park, the University district street fair, campus and, to Joris' ultimate delight, we even went up to the Space Needle!

On Saturday, Auntie Chris took care of Joris while the three of us and our mutual friend Richard (who taught in Majuro and visited us in Jaluit) went to a Mariner's game and on Sunday morning Paul and Sarah hosted Joris while the four of us enjoyed brunch and ice cream. (Sadly, Joris screamed at them for half an hour, but was ultimately pacified with t.v. and candy and Paul and Sarah even invited him back. I think it was a good learning experience for Joris and I'm pretty sure it will go better next time, but I felt bad for our friends.)

But, Friday night ended up being the most fun. Richard joined us for a Jaluit style dinner (tuna cakes, sushi, curry and coconuts; which were all foods we and fellow volunteers Aki and Hiro would make for special gatherings in Jaluit) and our friend Chris, who taught at Jaluit High School two years after we did and who also lives in Seattle joined us a little bit later for drinks and some serious reminiscing. We even briefly talked to Amy, the missing Team Jaluit member, on the phone.

The time I spent in the Marshall Islands is one of the most memorable experiences of my life and one I am most proud of. Not because of having been a volunteer, because it is only debatable if my presence made any real difference, but because of the person I became there; the effect Jaluit had on me and things I learned there.

There aren't many people who can relate to or even imagine what life was like there, so being among people who were there, too - who know the people we know, who get the references and the jokes, who had similar experiences - is nothing short of magnificent. At the end of the evening I felt like I had reconnected with a part of myself; the part that isn't Mama Joris, as honorable of a title as that might be. And although I know that the pre-mom part has always been there and will always be there, it felt like a long time ago that I last saw that person and I realized that I have missed her.

I would not trade being Joris' mom for anything, but I would not mind seeing that other part of myself, the person I was before Joris came along, more frequently. She gives me confidence and I'm pretty sure that she'd be a good role model for Joris as well. But how to find and, more importantly, maintain that balance? I don't believe that having a kid should entirely alter your life, but the fact, of course, is that it pretty much has. And that, too, should not necessarily be a bad thing. So I wonder; is the post-mom me a different person entirely or merely a tweaked version, or an improvement on the previous model? Has there been, or will there be an epic battle between the old and new me? Or have I myself really changed that much, or has it just my circumstances?

Driving back from dropping May off at the airport, I felt like I had just said goodbye to my former self again as well. It was great having them both around and I hope they will come back again soon 'cause I miss them already. And who knows, maybe that part of me will find her way back by herself, without having to hitchhike with May.

1 comment:

Sarah B said...

I totally relate to this...I'm not really sure who I am anymore after having a kid. But I also feel like I've been wandering away from the "real" me since being an undergrad. So maybe it's all just a work in progress anyways...I'm sure we won't have any idea who we are once the boys grow up and move out. It's hard not to lose your identity in what you are doing.

I had no idea Jaluit was just three years ago. Wow! Your weekend sounds fun, and we totally didn't mind watching J. Hope to do it again.