The following blog post was written by Lauren Jurgensen.
Thursday, 9/29, marked the conclusion of the first month of my greatest endeavor yet. An entire month living in Puerto Rico, taking care of myself (mostly) and constantly celebrating the ethereal beauty of life.
I woke up as usual, got ready for work, and had peanut butter and a cup of tea for breakfast.
We take breaks at nine, so I grabbed some leftovers and headed for the tent. We have a large, metal-and-tarp tent that vaguely resembles something you would use for a wedding. Under it sit a white table and two picnic benches. I ate my leftovers, had a glass of tea and laid down on a bench. I wasn’t feeling so hot. My stomach was turning, and I had a growing headache.
Hurricane Matthew was brewing off the coast and we were getting waves, wind, and rain. The winds started picking up and we noticed some bamboo fall over.
Not a big deal.
Soon, the gusting winds prevailed and snapped the metal legs of the tent, sending it toppling over me and my tea! It was what I would imagine being in a bouncy castle as a kid and it deflating over you is like. I had full trust in the tent. Gravity was indeed heartless.
The wind kept picking it up and moving it until we finally managed to disassemble it. Having to chase down this monster that ruined my break and my perfectly warm glass of lemon tea was aggravating. I didn’t want to take apart the tent, much less chase after it! Who did this tent think it was?
We had another break and went back to work cutting peppers, this time without the wonderful shade and protection the tent provided us.
About fifteen minutes after we got settled down, our music went off. The power went out!
No power, no shelter, what’s next?
We use a propane tank to cook with, so thankfully we could cook dinner without the use of the electricity.
It was soon discovered that the propane was completely empty so we were about out of options. All of our food required heat.
Furthermore, the kitchen had been invaded by three Puerto Rican tarantulas. We tried to get them out but with minimal light and a growing pit in our stomachs, it seemed futile. My apathy towards danger reached an all time high as my need for sustenance increased and my patience for the day reached an all time low.
It took a while to figure out, but we mixed up a tomato, garlic, two different kind of beans, and olive oil and had a dinner that tasted like cold, greasy disappointment.
Later that evening, we made a fire. I was just sure that the day had been a shit show and would now end in a fiery rage (I became very cynical).
As I sat around the fire, I immediately felt the ants attack my bare, defenseless feet. The smoke from the fire blew in my face, bringing tears to my eyes and a coughing fit to my lungs. “Great,” I thought. “This is how it ends. Suffocation. Right here. Right now.”
Once the smoke blew in another direction, I immediately felt better and less dramatic.
I could actually breathe.
I felt better emotionally, too. The smoke physically and emotionally cleared my head from all of the anger and frustration that had engulfed me throughout the course of the day.
I have a newfound faith in my ability to not breakdown when things get difficult. I am notoriously hard on myself and tend to freak out easily. Not once through the day did I even consider that to be an option. I had one focus: tread through the crap at your own pace. It worked just fine.
Talking about bad days isn’t easy. It makes people worry. What’s easy is telling people everything is awesome, all the time. Awesome elicits no expectation for explanation. Awesome is accepted without question.
But awesome is boring.
I have noticed that when people from home ask me how I’m doing, I automatically use one of a few descriptions: “Great!!! Perfect!! Amazing!” followed by a TON of exclamation points. Don’t get me wrong, I do love it here, but sometimes I feel these huge spaces that bring no exclamation to mind. It’s difficult to explain that in a caption on a Facebook picture or an email to a friend. The complexity of emotion that I wish I could convey keeps getting caught up in a hailstorm of positive adjectives you could find on stickers for kindergarteners.
Not everyday can be Great!!! Perfect!! Amazing!
Not everyday should be.
Some days throw you down with a large metal tent and make you eat crappy food surrounded by tarantulas. These days are equally important.
May you all unabashedly share your bad days as I am sure they are profoundly interesting and underrated.