And just like that, I’ve been here almost a week.

A few of us threw together an impromptu trip to New York City and we left around 5:30 a.m. yesterday morning. We drove through the darkness of the morning and the light, misty rain all around–through the country and small towns of Pennsylvania, across the entire state of New Jersey, to Staten Island, New York.

The ferry took us through the fog of the bay and we spied the Statue of Liberty amidst the mist. Then we were in Manhattan. We couldn’t see the tops of most of the buildings because of the low clouds/thick fog. A few things I saw were the World Trade Center site, Wall Street, Chinatown, Little Italy, 5th Avenue, 42nd Street, Times Square (and the crazy lights and sights), the New York City Public Library, Central Park, the Radio City Music hall, NBC studios, Trump Tower, and the UN building. These are just some of the main attractions. It felt so strange to actually see the things on TV and what I read about and what Bob Dylan wrote songs about. That was one place that we didn’t make it to: Greenwich Village. But now, I have this small taste of New York in the back of my mouth, like when you eat something really good and it just lingers there for what feels like days, and there are certain friends of mine who, one day, I will take there to experience the ultimate in madness.

I rode the subway. I walked the same streets as the Velvet Underground. It was a good day.

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It’s okay here in Akron. The schedule is pretty full and I have to get up way eariler than I’m used to, but I really enjoy the people that I’m here with and I tend to like what we do together at the sessions.

Today we talked about power in the morning and in the afternoon talked about racism. I may be privileged in both areas here in the states, but things will change when I leave and I still enjoy talking about them and listening to discussions on the aformentioned topics.

The past week has pretty much blurred past nonstop. Let me try to sum it up slightly:

On Wednesday I woke up in the early afternoon and got cleaned up and headed down to Oxford to see a friend who I hadn’t seen since the beginning of July. We had interesting and amusing conversations (with many digressions) throughout the course of the night and also watched the Red Sox beat the Yankees in the playoffs. By about 3 a.m. or so we were both nearly falling asleep on the couch while the TV blared quietly. The next morning involved coffee downtown at a nice place before she needed to go to class and I needed to be back on the road.

By the late afternoon on Thursday I was in Bluffton and I met some good friends and went up to the English Department to try and say hello/goodbye to some profs. In the evening a few good friends and myself ordered pizza and watched the National League playoffs and cheered as the Cardinals beat Houston. Later that night a few of us who were of age ended up in the local pub drinking a few and singing Kariokie. After the pub closed we gathered a small contigent and went out to the Flying J truckstop. I was hyped up on coffee and so were most of the people there. We eventually left sometime near 3:30 a.m. However, over the course of the time there we had some wonderful debates concerning the concepts of time and human existence.

The next morning I woke to the phone ringing and then went out for coffee with a strange, yet wonderful girl, who has a unique ability to make me laugh (she traveled to Vietnam with our group in May). I had lunch with one of my closest friends ever and we laughed a lot and very nearly made a scene in the coffee shop. For dinner I went out to Findlay with some good friends and my brother. After that, it was to the bowling alley for one of my lowest-scoring games ever. The night ended with me giving some final hugs to good friends and then sitting around in a shed talking deep things while a candle burned. I eventually fell asleep.

On Saturday I said yet more goodbyes to people and then headed home to see a guy I became good friends with about a year ago. I took a shower and fired off a quick email to MCC concerning my visa (which had begun to concern me). I met him in Mount Vernon where we sat around and talked about out potential futures. We walked through the rain and drank coffee and I was wearing sandals because all of my socks were dirty.

My brother got a ride home from Bluffton from a very old friend of mine who now lives in Goshen. When they got back we kind of migrated up to my older brother’s house for my nephew’s birthday celebration. After the cake and ice cream and presents, we wasted a lot of time driving around looking for something to do, and then ended up at my house watching the first game of the world series. My friend left when it was getting late and the remaining three of us stayed up to watch the game. It ended at 12:30 a.m. and it was about this time that I decided that I needed to pack. However, I was mostly clueless. How should I pack for three years into a suitcase and a backpack? I was finally done with everything, including showering, around 4 a.m. and set my alarm for 7.

In the morning I swallowed a bagel and some coffee, said goodbye to my old friend, and my brother and I hit the road for Akron, Ohio. My commissioning service was very emotional. My little brother said some nice things about me, which made us both cry. My mom was crying, my sister was crying and my dad was sniffling too. In any case, we got through it all and then in the afternoon was my dad’s ordination service. It wasn’t as long as I thought it would be, but I was feeling pretty tired when it was over. Eventually I said goodbye to all the people at church and all my family and good friends there and my parents and I cleared out and went to a bookstore. I picked out a few books and they insisted that they pay for them. I didn’t argue too much, because it meant more money with which to buy food and coffee on the train.

We eventually ended up at my aunt’s house in Akron, not too far away from the train station. I fell asleep around 10:30 or so and felt pretty good when I woke up around 5 the next morning. We made it to the train station and waited for quite some time, as the train was about 45 minutes late. I said goodbye to my parents and hopped aboard.

I drank coffee on the train, but fell asleep. I watched the countryside roll past and heard the train whistle blow. We rolled on through some mountains and I looked at the trees dying in thousands of colors. The train went around the famous horseshoe curve and there were people there watching us go by; I waved to them. I eventually ended up at my station of Lancaster, PA nearly an hour late, but there was someone there to pick me up. He drove me to Akron and dropped me off near where I would be staying.

Akron has changed since I remember it. The first time I was here I was 4 and I remember the brightly colored leaves and tricycles. The last time I was here I was about 12 or 13. The building that I remembered staying in and playing around has been completely razed; there is nothing there but a flat patch of grass. Interesting I guess. I met some other volunteers who are all very nice and seem way more qualified than I do. We were taken out to dinner at a nice Italian place and I was full when I left.

Today I have done hardly anything as the main things happen tonight. I have: Got up. Showered. Turned in forms. Picked up more forms. Turned in more forms. I’m looking forward to getting into the swing of things tonight and tomorrow.

Well, I’ve stayed up late the past few nights watching Boston beat the Yankees in the playoffs and I must say that every night I’ve turned off the TV a happy man. It seems that the Yankees always have everything in their favor, but something seems to be changing now. I only hope that I and millions more will not be let down tomorrow night.

The other day dad again was experimenting with chili and last night and tonight I ate it and with the way I eat my chili (cheese, crackers, hot sauce, extra chili powder, maybe some crushed red pepper) it usually tastes pretty good. However, when the game was over and dad was pouring out the stuff into containers to freeze, he noticed that it was foaming up and lifting the lids off of the containers. It was just foaming. And we had no idea why. I hope I didn’t poison myself or something. We tried to figure out why it was acting so strange. “Was the heat on all this time?” “I don’t think so.” Etc. I guess the last idea that we came up with was that perhaps all the fresh vegetables (especially the tomatoes) which were in the chili had somehow fermented and caused all the foam. Very weird stuff.

Sorry that I have not updated in what feels like ages.

I threw a little going away thing on Saturday and many, many of my friends showed up. That was the best thing, just seeing so many good friends under one roof. When Chadd left I cried a bit, but I’m sure that we’ll end up studying again together sometime.

But I guess that the most drastic thing to happen to me that night was my hair. It is now short. I had been growing my hair for around six years, and now it’s chopped and short and close to my head. I can’t grab my ponytail in nervousness now and the wind and sun are giving me sensations on the back of my neck that I haven’t had for several years.

Regardless though, the weather is now quite cold and I’m not feeling so well after staying up till nearly two in order to watch the Red Sox beat the Yankees in extra innings (something that I nearly danced around the living room about).

Most days at the dishroom my shift begins at 4 p.m. I leave the house at 3:30 and consistently I see a green Ford Ranger stepside with an large antenna pass me going the opposite way. I always look for it. I wonder if s/he notices me going the other way nearly every day. I wonder if the driver will notice when I stop going to work. I wonder if he’ll think about me and create his/her own odd scenario(s) about why s/he has stopped seeing me. Or I wonder if the driver of the green Ford will even notice or care.

I can count my remaining days as the dishroom supervisor on one hand now. I never would have thought I would reach this point a month ago.

The past few days have been a bit of a blur. Let me try to summarize: On Saturday I was mowing the lawn (hopefully the last time before snow) and while doing so a chilly wind picked up from the west and blew the leaves out of trees so that it looked to me like a flock of starlings was flying over the yard. Eventually this wind blew my hat off and I had to jump off of the mower and chase it across the yard.

The next morning I was up early to go to church, and the yard and fields were covered in frost; the first freeze of the fall, and I’m glad I witnessed it. After church and fried chicken in Barberton we came home and I slept for a bit and then Dad said it was time to move the sheep again. We managed to without the sheep getting away and running off, although the cows needed to be chased around a bit because they wouldn’t stay away from the clover.

After that it was down to Columbus to visit a friend. I arrived and we went out to get groceries, but we didn’t make anything to eat. We ordered pizza and drank out of large wineglasses and I felt almost middle class. We wandered a couple blocks down to UDF and then to a coffee shop to meet some people that we met in school. We eventually ended back up in his apartment and finished watching the film Ghostbusters, which I had never seen and therefore was practically forced to watch—not that I minded that much though.

The next day I dragged myself off of the futon where I had slept and went over to the OSU dental school; the place where I had a tooth pulled and several cavities filled last summer. It took about two hours of poking and scraping and polishing for them to be done and sign my form for MCC. Through the whole process the guy kept telling me to floss.

We went out for dinner on Monday and then went and watched the second Ghostbusters film, and not long after it was over I packed up and headed north. I drove out of Columbus with some strange trance music of the radio and it seemed to fit well driving through all of the lights. The moon rose large and low across the cityscape of Columbus and its suburbs. When I was nearly home it seemed that the moon was directly above the highway I was driving; it was a beacon, showing me the way home.