When I first received the phone call from the Peace Corps telling me that I was being assigned to Jamaica I was working in the Gallagher Guitar Shop. I actually shed a small tear of dissappointment because I wanted to go to Africa. My presumption at the time was that telling people I served in Africa would ellicit the pinnacle of respect. That presumption was quickly confirmed by my colleague. "Ha!" Jamie said. "Man you're going to have a great time smok'in all those dubbies for two years while I'm standing here scaping this guitar binding."
It was a short preview of what catalyzed in others' minds when, for the rest of my life, I would tell them where I served. And that has been a part of the appeal to write - not so much to recount the events of my time spent there, but to help people feel the bittersweet contradictions between intentions, results and we humans who play with them. Or, if nothing else, to help people feel as though they can step outside the story they tell themselves everyday and discover different ways of viewing our world.
The experiences and relationships I wrestled with for those two years will be a muse in perpetuity.
I doubt I will ever completely understand it, but trying to do so seems to produce some interesting stories and insights that helps me make better sense of the world and my role in it.