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Love in the Peace Corps


I joined the Peace Corps because I wanted to connect with the rest of the world, to see life from the perspective of the oppressed, to spread joy and wonder and curiosity to new places. I did not join, in other words, to find a girlfriend.

Why was it then, that as soon as I walked into my hotel in Philadelphia, I felt like a college freshman? I couldn't get through my first elevator ride without my heart-rate increasing and my breath shortening.

The feeling returned during our introductory meetings: the nervousness, the flurry of disordered thinking that accompanied moments of eye contact.

Damn you, body. Why must you sabotage everything good in this world?

I talked this over with my friend Ted on day one in Morocco. I was prepared for the bugs and dirt and cultural difficulties that come with Peace Corps, but nothing could prepare me for the onslaught of charming, independent-minded, attractive girls that I would be meeting throughout those first weeks. He agreed. It was eerie how many quality girls Peace Corps brings in. And here we were just a couple of dumbstruck schmucks.

Nearly a year into the experience, and I've managed to avoid a relationship. Yes, avoid, because saying that I've failed at finding a relationship is too gloomy. In some ways, I'm happy for this arrangement, as it has afforded me the opportunity to really sink into my community, to invest my surplus emotional currency in folks right here in my village. 

On the other hand, I still hang onto those crushes from PST and CBT phase. I cannot deny it - there are a few women who, when they call, give me that chemical rush:  O love, thou makest a fool of the wise, a lunatic of the levelheaded, a besotted booby of a Peace Corps Volunteer.

I love it that they exist, really, because it provides an extra incentive to do something really awesome with my service. Never miss a chance to showboat.

To all of those PCVs out there pierced by Cupid's darts, happy Valentine's Day.
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