It's amazing how lucky I feel to be here. I know that's hard to fathom that when I tell you that only sometimes does my heating, electricity and running water work (that's the cold water, mind you, the hot water has decided to work for perhaps 3 minutes per day, if at all). In addition to the fact that consumer goods here are extremely limited and that the coldest winter I have ever known is fast approaching. But really, if you look at it a different way, then it all sounds quite nice. I have tons of wonderful site mates, a great job teaching eager students, a steady pay check, an apartment that is quite cozy (bonus: leopard-print futon), great free medical care, parents and a whole extended family network who couldn't possibly be more supportive or interested in my work and the best friends I could possibly hope for. Things like the lights in my apartment working seem trivial compared to the love I feel from people at home and the priceless things I've been given, like the best education possible. And the opportunity to share those things, to not take them for granted, makes me feel lucky.
I spent lots of time working with homeless and at-risk teenagers (a thing I miss dearly here) in the last few years. One kid, Jay, really stood out to me. When I knew him he was about seventeen and was always dirty, didn't normally wear shoes, was a compulsive liar and lived on and off with his pimp. One day he walked into the center where we worked with the kids and I asked him how he was doing. He looked at me and, in the cheeriest and most matter of fact voice, goes "blessed and highly favored!" That really just stand out to me as the quintessential example of how you can really decide how to look at your life. I think Jay was on to something.
Also, it snowed here a few days ago. The town is still blanketed in white and I am pretty sure that my fifth floor apartment gives me the best view in the city of the winter wonderland. It's really strange to live somewhere with little to no precipitation. Hovd is technically a "desert-steppe" climate, a thing drastically different from either Atlanta or Baltimore. Having any sort of rain, sleet or snow give a sort of release that I think is rather cathartic for everyone who experiences it, either consciously or subconsciously. It is certainly nice to have sunny weather all the time but I do miss those storms that make the world feel newly washed and fresh. The snow clouds that gathered and let lose upon my town made things feel less tense, like there was a general release of breath as the flakes fell. A euphoric and snowy exhaliation.