So what’s life like after Peace Corps? First of all, it’s very difficult to adjust to life in the States where everything is faster and more complex. We had little money in Moldova, so we didn’t buy much, and were just fine. Because we’d planned to be away for two years, we sold our house, our cars, and got rid of appliances. Returning to the States, we found we needed cell phones and a car before we could even begin to function. We’d been living out of two suitcases each since June but found staying in an apartment and trying to function without any of our own “stuff” was very difficult for us in America. We felt like we were living between two worlds: the simple life of a PC volunteer and our regular, more complex life as middle-class Americans.
We moved to Seattle where our son and his family had moved in the summer and found it to be an ideal location for us with the proximity to the mountains (Leslie feels like she’s back home in Colorado) and to the ocean with an abundance of hiking and bicycling trails. People here embrace the outdoors and don’t let little things like clouds and rain dampen their outdoor activities. The housing market is crazy here: not enough houses for the people who want to buy them – and they’re very expensive. We finally found a house, but one that we might never have purchased elsewhere – small lot with the two-car garage the focus of the front. But there are wonderful windows and a nice open floor plan. However, we got a good price because the house was in terrible condition: filthy cabinets, floors, and walls, damaged and broken appliances, with carpets badly stained that a cat had used as a litter box in one room. So since mid-December we’ve been cleaning and painting, buying new appliances, flooring, and carpet. Little by little the house is being improved and we hope will be a great location for us. It’s probably been good for us to keep busy. We think often of Peace Corps and Moldova, and miss it all so very much. It’s been a difficult adjustment for us – can’t imagine what it would have been like after two years! At least then, however, we would have completed our full service, and wouldn’t have the regrets that are with us now.
Our new house with Moldova gift from our host family.
When we’ve made our house livable, we hope to begin our retirement life with lots of outdoor activities and volunteer work. Jan hopes to begin working again with Habitat for Humanity, Leslie with the literacy council, and both of us with trail and other outdoor associations that are actively involved in improving the area trails and restoring parks. The opportunities are endless! We are enjoying exploring the area occasionally and have found a number of great places for walking and hiking. The mountains are within a half-an-hour drive and there are trails everywhere.
One of our first hikes in Snoqualmie area.
It’s weird right now trying to re-adjust. For the first third of the year we were eagerly planning for two years in the Peace Corps, then spent the middle half of the year in Moldova, and now we’re back in the States. We are so sad to have left the Peace Corps, but know that it was best for us. Life certainly has been different, and when you get your head around living a certain way for over two years, and then suddenly change, it’s rather disconcerting and disorienting. But we hope we can adjust to these new changes as we did when we moved to Moldova.