I've been living in the DC area for 8 1/2 years now. HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE! Even writing that sentence is making me want to hyperventilate from the knowledge of how much time has passed and how the years have slipped away from me. And I've been thinking--how strange that this is my life. It's a good one in many ways, but so completely different from what I would have imagined I'd be doing at this point. In some ways, reality seems like an illusion--it's somehow alienating to realize what it is in contrast to what I imagined it would be.
This leads me to considering how I got here, and marveling at how seemingly inconsequential events have proceeded to change the course of my life. Flashback to the end of my undergraduate career: I finished a degree in something that I loved but didn't feel compelled to pursue in graduate school and felt utterly lost. I putzed around for a year and a half or so doing random jobs like substitute teaching and camp counselor until I found an online advertisement for a month-long TESOL certification course in Prague. And I thought--you know what? I've done some teaching as an undergraduate, at church, and as a substitute. And I kind of like it. I know I love travel, and people say Prague is pretty cool. Hm--maybe?
I prayed. And while I don't usually get concrete answers to prayers--more like a sensation of warmth and comfort--this time, it seemed like what I heard was something along the lines of: "If you want to do this, fine. Do it. Do SOMETHING, for pity's sake!" So I made plans to go. Everything seemed fine until the night before I was supposed to leave, when I was suddenly overwhelmed with panic. I'm not normally a big crier, but I think I cried myself to sleep that night.
But I went, and while it was very hard and lonely for a time, it ended up being, in many ways, one of the most joyful experiences of my life. I met so many generous and interesting people, the most unexpected and yet most exhilarating things would happen--some day I'll have to chronicle the tale of my friend's camera left on a train, which ended in the world's most odd train yard and warehouse--I learned a new language, I discovered how to be alone and take pleasure in it, I learned to step outside of the familiar and see it for its own inherent strangeness and appreciate the beauty in what initially seemed strange. I met a missionary at church who mentioned a graduate program in TESOL she was planning to enter at Georgetown University when she returned from her mission. Which got me to thinking--maybe this is the next step? And when I did some independent research, I discovered--yes! This is what I want--this program. And while visiting the Georgetown campus right before applying one winter day, I actually bumped into her. We exchanged emails, we became roommates, I completed the program, I decided to stick around, I got a job teaching ESOL at a local high school.
So here I am, nearly 11 1/2 years after seeing that original advertisement for a TESOL certification program in Prague. Where will I be in 11 1/2 more? Yikes.