Erdhe 2012

And another year begins….

I’m home this first weekend in January. Un-decorating. Being alone. Soaking up my house by myself and catching up on all the things I didn’t do over the last few weeks between Christmas and New Years. Or avoiding them all the same by finding new distractions.

It’s hard to believe the passing of 2011 marks the first full calendar year of my life spent entirely outside the US of A. It was a whirlwind and went by faster than expected, but was a wonderful year full of memorable projects, successes and failures, relationship building and travels around the Balkans with friends.

I spent a few days in Ohrid, Macedonia to celebrate the arrival of the new year with a few close friends. It was a wonderful trip, one of the shortest but best I’ve had since being in Albania. I think it was so nice because it was not only a chance to spend time with people I love and am completely comfortable with in a beautiful place, but also to have a great time dancing and being slightly ridiculous to celebrate the new year in style.

However comfortable and steady I may feel with my life and work and friends here now, the passing of 2011 brings into full light the new year – one that will be so full of unknowns and changes for all of us PCVs in my group as our service comes to a close. Over our Ohrid trip and throughout the past few months I’ve been a part of a lot of conversations about time and the future, it seems.

My Peace Corps experience, with its high highs and low lows and all the time inbetween where I’m just curled up at home by myself doing an inordinate amount of knitting brings to mind a quote from Steinbeck’s East of Eden. The following was once shown to me by a friend at another point in my life that felt equally as transitional, and I’ve enjoyed sharing these words with friends now:

“Time interval is a strange and contradictory matter in the mind. It would be reasonable to suppose that a routine time or an eventless time would seem interminable. It should be so, but it is not. It is the dull eventless times that have no duration whatever. A time splashed with interest, wounded with tragedy, crevassed with joy – that’s the time that seems long in the memory. And this is right when you think about it. Eventlessness has no posts to drape duration on. From nothing to nothing is no time at all.”

And it’s true. It’s getting taken out to lunch to celebrate a grant proposal on a whim and making a total mess with firecrackers by the port in Ohrid on New Years Day and sweating up the hill to Lura and boating around to beaches by Himare and laughing at my students comedy performances and finally getting my own desk after 18 months that I will and do remember most. Not the weeks and cold nights by myself in between. They seem long at the time, but actually fly by.

Best wishes for a happy and memorable new year!

See y’all sooner than you may think. I hope!

  1. susan said:

    I just love your reflections! And the pictures are great – I am wondering what 2012 will bring – endings and beginnings for each stage of our lives!

    Happy New Year and lots of happiness to you!

  2. gin mccabe said:


    What a joy to read your reflective post for 2011!

    I really think you have accomplished so much more than you can imagine presently. In my lifetime, it has taken me time to realize what I have done, only after some time has passed and I have had the opportunity to see how one thing built upon another, and so on. I love reading about what you have done and seen, where you have been, and the things which elicit laughter (and sadness). I can’t imagine you being alone for long – but the mind and soul need that sort of space, too. Sometimes, I guess it’s even good to have it gifted to you, in spite of one’s thinking of it as aloneness. I am only learning this, and wish I had taken more time by myself (or been confident enough to do so) as a younger person. I so admire you! Thank you, too, for including the Steinbeck quotation; it really crystallized something for me.

    Thank you for your lovely note, and well wishes for John. We will see him again, for the first time, on Jan 13th!! I am beginning to pack the van now, as there are many things he will need or surely want. When you return, I will pack the van, again, if there is something I can bring to you…. but surely, it won’t take a van to bring you a hug and the warmest welcome home. Meanwhile, keeping up with you through your dear parents. We are so fond of them. Oh, and I really loved and appreciated that great photo you took which they used as a Christmas card. Amazing!!

    Sending you love, light, joy and peace.


    • Gin!

      Thank you so much for the kind words. I am indeed having a great experience here. I know you are glad to have John back home and hope you’ll give him my love. Enjoy every minute together!

      XOXO LM

  3. Cindy Ptak said:

    Laura Margaret, I have read every post but you know me and technology. I rarely jump in and this posting might not even get to you because I didn’t push the right button. Like you I am procrastinating with my semester grades but instead decided to clean every e-mail from my inbox. As a RPCV, I thought your experience would be different because of your connections through technology, but as I have read all your postings I have been amazed at how you have gone through a very similar experience as every PCV since 1961. It told me that you don’t have to have the total isolation (like your dad’s and many other’s experiences)to go through the same acculturation process and have a GREAT Peace Corps Experience. I’m proud of you and your friends and have enjoyed all your sharing. You are a fantastice writer and I usually save your postings for a quiet time after school to give me a nice positive boost.

    • Cindy!

      I loved hearing from you! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have been thinking of you often and hearing lots from Mom about your holiday gatherings together. Much love and thanks for reading!


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