I lived in the Dominican Republic for almost three years.
Today, I won’t be writing about what it was like to live there. Instead, I would like to write about what it was like to leave.
As the day of my departure approached, I took comfort in Kahlil Gibran— particularly the closing passage of The Prophet, part of which reads:
In the stillness of the night I have walked in your streets, and my spirit has entered your houses,
And your heart-beats were in my heart, and your breath was upon my face, and I knew you all.
Ay, I knew your joy and your pain, and in your sleep your dreams were my dreams.
And oftentimes I was among you a lake among the mountains.
I mirrored the summits in you and the bending slopes, and even the passing flocks of your thoughts and your desires.
And to my silence came the laughter of your children in streams, and the longing of your youths in rivers.
I was excited to leave… to speak English, to not be the only white girl in town, to have electricity and running water, and especially to see my family and friends. However, there was a deep and abiding sadness in me whenever I thought of actually leaving. It was a lossy feeling, like when someone dies, but less specific.
I had been living and working with these people for a few years now, and the thought of not being able to see them anymore seemed unreal. The leaving process itself was like a dream. Looking back now (three years hence), I only remember snippets. The experience of coming back to the States remains perhaps the most surreal of my life.
Farewell to you and the youth I have spent with you.
It was but yesterday we met in a dream.
You have sung to me in my aloneness, and I of your longings have built a tower in the sky.
But now our sleep has fled and our dream is over, and it is no longer dawn.
The noontide is upon us and our half waking has turned to fuller day, and we must part.
If in the twilight of memory we should meet once more, we shall speak again together and you shall sing to me a deeper song.
And if our hands should meet in another dream, we shall build another tower in the sky.
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