Last night, I was looking for a story I had started years ago. I didn't find that story, but I found some pictures that I thought I had lost forever when a certain computer died. Apparently, I had backed them up after all.
This is the first place that I lived that was far from home and my family and anyone I had formerly known. After high school, I spent the summer working at camp, and then moved to Luquillo, Puerto Rico, to work at a school for the deaf.
I could recognize Luquillo (Lu-key-o) by it's five tall buildings in the set, two clusters. This is a view of it from higher up, ascending the rain forest.
Closer up to two buildings. Riding home on the highway.
My first living room (shared)
Combined with partial kitchen (shared)
And bedroom (shared - conveniently, I was used to sharing and had done it most of my life).
This picture is from in the school yard. Interestingly enough, I took almost the same photo when I visited two years later. I loved seeing this view.
I wonder, sometimes, why I did better there. In fact, I didn't do so much better. I worked part of the school day and part of the afternoon/evening (i.e., not full time). I had my moments of strong depressed thoughts and my five month run of crying hard every other night (seemed perfectly natural then, especially when a close friend was having the same issue). But, after the depression from the preceding summer took one last attempt, I did maintain a reason for living. I loved my students so much. I felt like my life had meaning and worth as I helped them learn and watched understanding and smiles light up their faces. And I loved the place: the smells, sounds, heavy rain, and bright sunshine. It was a period of growing up and of freedom. A period that, as it drew to a close, was overlapped by OCD making its claim on my mind.
It was a hard experience to give up. I missed it passionately. Perhaps it was really depression, but I accounted for it as the call of God upon me to return to that place and/or missing it/reverse culture shock (fascinating subject, by the way). I figured that I wasn't depressed because I actually still had a goal for the future: to go back. I got myself through community college, striving towards my goal. Choosing a church, making friends, getting my wisdom teeth out. I had a goal, a desperate earnestness.
Then, it didn't work out. Four words that cover a few difficult months. OCD played a part. Past depression played a part. So I came up with a new goal. I was going to get my mental health together. I wasn't going to promise to ever try going back again, so that goal was cut off. But I would go for mental health. Surely I would need that if I ever wanted to do something similar (which I really did want, still do).
Mental health is about as easy to attain as my goal of moving back longer term; not all of it lies within my simple control. It's a goal that slowly wilts and morphs, yet never quite gives up on regaining a non-depressed state.
So now? Now I can remember back. I can smile and feel the comfort and joy I had there. I know it is past, but...
Oh, forget the deep, philosophical thinking! It was really nice to find those pictures. :)
This was in El Morro, the very old castle/fortress in San Juan.
View from El Morro