19 Jun


On Friday night, I had three students in class. They were all really motivated students who didn’t seem bored, but the class was relatively empty. I spent a lot of time pacing around the room, making sure I was available for questions. And when I walked from the front of the room toward the back, I could see my clear reflection in the window overlooking the courtyard. For most of my night class, it’s dark outside, which means that with the lights on in the classroom, what you see when you look at the windows is yourself in the classroom, looking at the windows.

Friday night was no exception. I saw myself looking back at myself in the window. The only difference was that at certain angles, the room seemed entirely empty. And I could imagine that I was looking at a ghost, pacing up and down the aisles in an barren classroom.

Chances are good that one month from now, on July 19th, I’ll spend my last day in SECAP ever. I’ll be a ghost, a memory — a part of my spirit left in this experience that will forever be a part of me.

There’s been a trade, you see. I’ve left a part of myself here; and I’ve gained a new facet of myself.

I’m looking forward to coming home. In fact, Eileen and I have been anticipating it with excitement, talking to each other about the comfort and familiarity that awaits us when we return and we get to sit on grass in our yard or pet the dog or drink tap water. But I don’t want thoughts of home to overshadow the next month I’ve got here.

It helps me to think of the end well before the end, to imagine the goodbyes and what I’ll miss and where I’ve traded parts of my spirit with new parts. I don’t plan on spending the next month writing nostalgic, pseudo-poetic journal entries to post on my blog. It’s just that if I can see the ghosts now, I’ll maybe live here for the next month instead of back in Wisconsin.

I’m anticipating going around town and taking pictures of all the stuff I don’t normally take pictures of. I’ll have to get pictures of the people I see on a regular basis, like the SECAP guards, the copy lady, the grumpy corner store woman, the internet guy who lets me print off worksheets and doesn’t charge me for computer time, and of course, my students. If someone is reluctant to allow the picture I’ll explain that today is the “ultima dia de mi vida.” If they look shocked, I’ll explain that it’s the last day of my life in Ecuador. And if they press me, I’ll admit that it’s not quite the last day, but that it’s coming up.

I’ll do my best to live here for the next 30 days.

On Friday, in my near-empty classroom, as I walked toward the window, my reflection grew stronger and more defined each time I passed under the overhead florescent lights. When I got closer to the window, further from the overhead lights, my reflection began to fade a little. And when I got right up to the window so that my nose was practically touching it, my face disappeared altogether. All I could see was the mountainside of Pichincha, peppered with lights. That’s got to be a metaphor for something.