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. One can't help but notice the huge disparity between how we perceive our own experiences in our own lives and how others perceive them. That has been a part of the motivation of storytelling for me - to help people feel as though they can step outside the story they tell themselves everyday and discover different ways of viewing our world. Of course, starting off with a good sense of humor makes everything go much smoother.
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.