For those of you who are new to the story (and is there anybody reading this who is NOT my editor, my agent, or a relative?), I ventured into the great jungley unknown as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador 20 years ago. That whole adventure didn't exactly turn out exactly like I'd planned (and you can read more about my hilarious misadventures in my book: FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA (Broadway Books, April '09) end of shameless self promotion) and seeing everyone again after 20 years, well, it's as diarrhea-inducing as it is exciting.
Twenty years after those first shaky steps into the big world on our own (hey, we were nervous. Okay we were hung-over, too.) and the remaining Misters (so named because all the kids on the streets of Ecuador yelled, "Hey, Mister, give us something!" whenever we walked by) are getting together for a weekend blowout. It begs the existential questions: what have we done with our lives? are all the best parts over? can we ever recapture our glory days? and most importantly, will they think I've gotten fat and old?
Seriously, I'm writing to you this morning from the absolutely picture perfect house of a couple of fellow Misters. I'm recalling one of our Peace Corps happy housekeeping ditties ("Dig yourself a ditch, for to take a shit ... at least a hundred meters from you house. Dig it nice and deep or when you go to sleep, your poop will be dinner for a mouse!") and now I'm staying in a house that is so gorgeous, I'm afraid to mess it up by using the toilet! How did we get here? And are we still us?
Ah ... but we are adventurers if nothing else. If not, I assure you, we would never have ended up with malaria half a dozen times between us, chasing mountain gorillas at six months pregnant, and being held hostage in a war zone. It's true and all in the book (okay, more shameless self promotion, I'm sorry. The end. Really.). So onward we go to see what awaits us in the great beyond of Minnesota. It is a new frontier, one that I understand might not even have Wi Fi! but we will tough it out. Hey, we are RPCVs (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers), a band of brothers and sisters with a tough-it-out mentality, not unlike the Marines (without the guns, of course, and all those bothersome rules ... and probably more beer).
Anyway if you don't hear from us for a few days imagine us on a big, old farm - perhaps like Max Yasger's farm in a small upstate NY town called Woodstock. Yes, imagine us having a grand old peace and love, hippie kind of time. Imagine us holding hands and dancing in the rain. Imagine us singing Cum Ba Ya and closing down the New York State Thruway. (If none of this means anything to you, you are clearly under 40. Go ask your mother.)
I'll keep you posted,