The Paralyzing Silence

As I sit here and write this I don’t whether to call it the end or the beginning of my story. I’ve been graduated from college for four months now and miss the student lifestyle. The enlightened discussions, the sense of purpose, the late nights, the term papers, intellectual expansion: all gone. I was lucky towards the end. My university job hired me on as a temp worker, and I genuinely enjoyed those who I worked with, and yet something massive kept looming on the horizon, vastly obscuring my future. I’ve been awaiting my Peace Corps. acceptance and placement for over nine months and with every question from a friend or colleague I feel it return. A painful and anxious tightness reigns as a spiteful king in the area that lies directly over my sternum. As the months have passed, and as the curious continue to ask the dreaded question: “have you heard anything?”  the coil in my chest tightens. No. I haven’t. I don’t know. The lack of information feels suffocating. I feel as though I’ve been holding my breathe for nine months. It’s been over a year since I turned in my application and now that my final day at work and in my life of certainty approaches my vision of the future steadily evolves into a depressing reflection of my past expectations. There is no Plan B. I’ve put all my faith into the Peace Corp. Every morning I wake with a start and check my email for any type of news…nothing… for nine months. The one thing in the world I want most, I can not obtain, no matter who I call or email, the answer is always silence. I am paralyzed in the silence.

It was after a close friend had called me with news that I snapped. She was also applying with the Peace Corp and had just received her placement: Zambia. I swallowed the fierce emotion that embodied my initial reaction and congratulated her. And I was happy for her, but the coil that lay just above my heart had no more room to compress itself into my chest cavity. I hung up the phone and drove. The fog was lining the Northern horizon as a pale orange sun sank; I sped towards it, feeling as though it was mirroring my sense of the impending listlessness and dread that lie in my future. Tears ran as a guttural grasp escaped me and hung heavy in the silent interior of my car as the grey mist began to envelop its exterior. Stress dreams overtook my nights afterwards.

Until the day the coil in my chest sprung loose.

I was counting down the last half and hour at work after an average and had been an uneventful day when it came fast and without notice. I absentmindedly checked my phone. An email. Titled: Congratulations. My country was in bold type: Costa Rica.

My face flushed red and hot. I shook. Disbelief and relief overtook my body.

And then finally, I could breathe.

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