An excerpt from my notebook, dated April 16, 2015:
“What a difference a year makes.
365 days ago I was at my breaking point. My roommate got arrested for a crime that made me question my trust in people. My coursework was the most I have ever had. My relationship was on the rocks. I was fighting with my dad and my best friend was a whole other world away.
When every aspect of your life seems to be spiraling by the day, it is difficult to picture where you’ll be in a year. Nepal was the last place on my list.
I’m sitting on a little grass hill in Pokhara, overlooking the lake and watching the paragliders fly from the mountain tops. Annapurna is covered by clouds while the rest of the sky is clear.
I have new roommates now – 3 boys who I really do love for making Providence a place for me to feel safe and call home again. I’m single, a fact that is freeing but still a little sore, depending on the memory that pops in my head at random, and often inconvenient, times.
In 10 days I will be ending this journey and starting a new one. I’ll be finishing up school and saying goodbye to friends I am likely to never see again. Saying goodbye to a part of the country that has treated me well, that has raised me, without knowing if I’ll ever move back. And I’m so damn excited.
Excited to be moving to the Southwest. Excited to be making that move with the most important person in my life. It astounds me how we’re able to make a plan and really stick to it. I don’t know what I’d do or who I would be if I didn’t have Holly.
But today I sit with my back to the sun and my eyes to the crowd of Asians taking portraits on their selfie sticks.
What a place to ponder your life and wonder what’s to come.”
Nine days later, the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck. The memory of my entire trip coming home was consumed with thoughts of the shaking ground, the lives that were lost, and the tremendous amount of people displaced. I was obsessed with understanding the social implications that this tragedy now meant to a post-disaster community, such as heightened human trafficking, spikes in disease, government corruption, and what tourism could do to fix it. I cried often of the news that a young guy I knew had died in a landslide while trekking the Langtang region.
A month after my return I was sitting in a restaurant with my family, celebrating my graduation that afternoon. I started opening my gifts, and came to a wrapped present that was clearly a large picture frame. When I tore the paper, I found that the framed image was of the lake in Pokhara that I spent hours in front of, writing and reflecting on my life up until that point, without any inkling that everything would change a week later.
I burst into tears. It wasn’t until that point that all of the beautiful memories of my two month stay came flooding back to me. The moments where I would stare at the Himalayas, seeking answers about my industry and my contribution to it. The moments where I danced to Nepali jazz music, ate momos, got drunk on awful fruit wine, got henna painted on my hands and feet, enjoyed early morning chai on the rooftop, colored mandalas while waiting for the wifi to load, built bottle buildings, rode a motorcycle, and got lost in the maze of Kathmandu.
There’s a joke that goes, “Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”
It was amazing.
*In a year since the 7.8 earthquake on April 25 and the 7.6 earthquake on May 15, the rebuilding process has been slow. Please consider donating to the Kevin Rohan Memorial Eco Foundation, SASANE, or the Local Women’s Handicrafts, three reputable organizations close to my heart that tackle Nepali society’s toughest issues, from sustainability to human trafficking to women’s economic freedom. Links below: