Drinking and Thinking

I have less than a month left in Arequipa and I’ve only just discovered my go-to place for a good, dark beer.

Last night my friends and I finally went to that bar we’ve been talking about trying forever. You know the one; everyone has a bar, a restaurant, some place that makes them light up when they hear about it and go “I’ve been meaning to go there!”

But then it never happens.

Why do we have these places, these things, that settle into the folds of our minds like a new idea and eventually flatten out into its recesses, never forgotten but not prioritized?

It would have been so easy to go to the bar from last night sooner; it’s less than a five-minute walk from my house. And it was one of those rare places that actually exceeded the high expectations time had grown in the interim between wanting to go and going; the stout was dark and smooth and settled into my stomach like a large guard dog curling up, the fries were proclaimed to be the best we’ve had in Arequipa, and the happy hour specials had us frothing more than our fresh-off-the-tap beers. It was the kind of impromptu post-work gathering that’s its own kind of intoxicating. How lucky am I, I couldn’t stop thinking, looking around at my friends, who on paper could easily be rendered an absurdly eclectic and seemingly-incompatible bunch.

It’s strange how difficult it can be to walk the line between grateful and morose with a beer in your hand.

This morning I woke up with what can only be described as an emotional hangover; it was like my body was physically manifesting the mental-lethargy that’s been building in me since we began to say our second set of goodbyes to volunteers last weekend. Time is flowing so quickly that the days are literally blurring together into lesson plans, combi rides, dinners, drinks, and dancing, with goodbyes interspersed like poorly-timed shots. I have felt like I don’t have the energy required to bond with the new volunteers, who are trickling in like the afterthought-raindrops from a thunderstorm. But when I’m with them, meeting them, and hearing their stories, it’s like settling in front of a crackling fire that blunts the cold sting of the still-fresh goodbyes—even though I feel like I want to distance myself from these goodbyes that are piling up like dirty dishes after a family meal, I know that that’s not really what I want, because the hard goodbyes are proof that I did, in fact, actually come here.

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