I just got into the Bay Area after my Peace Corps group reunion, and I have to say I had a wonderful time. After the last reunion, I would have expected to have a wonderful time, but this reunion even passed those expectations, and in a big way.
There's something about this group of people; maybe it's that we met at a liminal time in all our lives, a time of massive change, but getting back together is like being with kindred spirits. We've all changed, pretty much, but there's still a core there at the center where we bonded and it holds. Some folks have kids, and seeing them as parents is completely weird and natural at the same time. Others brought partners, and they mostly seemed to fit right in.
We met up at Donner Park, and managed to keep plenty busy, even beyond the standing around talking and feeding each other. What is it about RPCVs? When we were PCVs, a visit from another PCV was basically an excuse for a feast and a fiesta, and that just hasn't changed.
Even more than before, we're good at taking care of each other. Someone always just seemed to have the extra piece of camping equipment, coffee, food, car space, knowledge or whatever to make the reunion work.
I don't think I've ever known another group of people like this; my colleagues in grad school were great fun and good people; my colleagues at various jobs, too. But these people are special to me in a way I've never really experienced elsewhere. The closest I've come, perhaps, is in gaming, oddly enough. But with RPCVs, the shared challenges, difficulties, joys, and tragedies are real.
Standing around talking, I realized in a new way just how close some of my group's come to tragedy lately, and became a bit surprised that we've all managed to survive. Take a bunch of self-selected risk takers (I'm the most boring of the bunch), set them free on the world, and watch what happens for 20 some years. What seems to have happened: cancer, near fatal and not so fatal; accidents and near misses. And yet somehow we've all made it this far. And most of us seem to be doing cool things (Again, I'm probably the most dull professionally, yet my career path's been anything but predictable).
And even more than when we were PCVs, I'm sort of shocked to be one of them. How did I manage that?
Our recently retired program manager joined us for one day, and filled us in on what's happening in our various sites, the PC programs, the country. Everything's changed, and nothing, apparently. We made differences, but didn't stop the progress of floods, erosion, poverty, drugs, etc. I was filled with pride and despair.
Anyways, I managed to go rafting a bit, bike riding a bit, to talk a LOT, eat, see petroglyphs, watch the Donner Party movie, and laugh and laugh and laugh. Good times. For a totally spontaneous bunch of outings, we managed to do a lot together!
And yes, one of the RPCVs is also a Pastafarian. How cool is THAT?