Doc, We’ve gone back in time!

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No, Marty, it’s just time zones!!

So, our time at “disorientation” is complete, and we’ve also finished the first leg of our journey to Tucson. It is currently 1:53 PM MDT here in Denver. I’ve been awake since 3:00 AM EDT. Which was 1:00 AM here. We will arrive at 4:40 MST, because Tucson does not do Daylight Savings (PRAISE!) But that is also 5:40 PM MDT, or 8:40 EDT. I am not sure what our schedule really looks like tonight, as far as anything other than going to our new house and unpacking, but I doubt I will be in bed until 9 or 10. So 1 or 2 EDT. In short, I will have been awake for almost a full 24 hours.

Which means it’s totally a great idea to unpack some of what went on this week! Right? Right. A week ago today, after driving up to Bremen, GA from Tallahassee, FL on Sunday, my folks drove me to the airport at 3:45am. I met two other YAVs, Jonathan Freeman (Indianapolis) and Elizabeth Reid (Atlanta) there and we flew from Atlanta to Newark, where we met Savannah Caccamo (Miami) by a cool stroke of luck, and decided to take our train adventure together. Well, our train from the station at Newark got stuck behind another train that had broken down and we had to route around it. This meant we missed the connection we wanted to make and had to wait another hour and fifteen minutes for that train. After taking that train, we were picked up by the van to head to Stony Point. It was about a 30 minute drive (I think? Time is kind of fuzzy right now) We checked in and had some time to meet people before our first activity, so we played cards. Then we had worship and our first small group meeting.

The real disorientation began the next day.  We discussed racism, racial prejudice, institutions, and other such topics with Jessica and Kara from crossroads. It was an exceptionally difficult session. The topics and discussions we had really made me realize that, for all the reading I do, for all the learning I seek, and for all the support I’ve tried to give to friends in the borderlands, I’m still a part of the dominant center, and through unintentional, subconscious actions, I am complicit in the structures that promote the disenfranchisement of marginalized groups. And it made me uncomfortable. There was a lot of language used that made this so readily apparent. The Center/borderlands relationship being just one of those things. Jessica talked about the idea of ally vs. co-conspirator and it really affected how I view my stance around issues of race, gender identification, and sexuality. And really, human rights in general. There are many things that will take so much time to unpack, and I’m glad to have this blog as a tool for processing.

One of the things I’m really going to work on early, and something I struggled with at the disorientation is using the idea of W.A.I.T. in conversation. It stands for “Why Am I Talking?” If you know me, you know I like to talk, and will happily rule a conversation, regardless of how many people are involved. I talk because I find silence in social interaction to be uncomfortable. I find it to be almost oppressive at times, and feel the need to fill it. This is likely because I tend to process out loud, whether it’s spoken or written. I’m hoping writing this blog and really beginning to journal will be a help. The real thing here is, I’ve got to practice and work to allow processing time for those who process differently and then allow space for people to express it. I know it is going to be a struggle in serious conversation, and often times in casual conversation. I’m hoping the people I interact with will be able to call me in on my tendency to just run with a conversation to the point that it almost becomes one sided. Admitting this is not necessarily uncomfortable here, but is certainly not the easiest thing I’ve ever done.

This week over all has been a wonderful week, I’ve certainly not even scratched the surface here of the more difficult things to process, but I will be doing that in other blogs. I also want to unpack some of the things that made my heart light. My small group leader, Kaley, encouraged me to keep true to my experience, to not leave out the parts that might make me uncomfortable, even in their positivity, so I will start as I mean to go on.

I was exceptionally worried that I would back-track, coming to orientation and then Tucson, in my growth I’ve made over the last three years in developing relationships with others. That I would allow myself to become the person who redirects personal questions, only allows people to know them on a surface level, and pulls back from relationships when they seem to be going to a place on vulnerability (on my part). I was also worried, that if I did manage to avoid this, it would be mentally and emotionally draining in such a way that it made me stop trying as hard. I was worried that the things the Humans of North Ave have taught me would slip away as I left, and I would return to old habits of avoidance. Much to my surprise, it was not a struggle. It seems that symptom of my anxiety has been practiced out in Atlanta, and hopefully the habit of developing close relationships will stick. I know I’m going to need it this year!

For now, this is it, I’ll have more in the next few weeks to finish unpacking “disorientation”, and update on site orientation and such. As my brain is steadily turning into mush from lack of sleep, I think it’s a good idea to stop before I cease to communicate any pertinent information! Have a lovely day, friends!

 

Peace and Love,

Rachel

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