...and then there were three...
It's 4:57am. We have been awake for an hour. Three of us remain, we embrace each other in the empty parking lot for a few moments while we absorb this feeling and expand into the space which was designed for 10, but is now just 3. From the night before's sleeping arrangements, each one of us is inhabiting a different bed room at the guesthouse, but from 5am until 8 am, we dread the being alone-ness and agree to consolidate to just one room (the warmest one), beds equally spaced, we individually sulk a little as we start to realize just how distant and departed our friends and colleagues are.
Sweet as it was to have self-actualized such a dynamic group, one that gets along curiously swell and breaks into song, lovingly and frequently, on every 14 hour bus ride- this, now broken, security blanket with which we have experienced every waking and sleeping hour of every second of this tour, is now vanished in the fog to the sound of a bus engine driving up a steep hill in first gear. This is an utter shock. A julting and sad awareness of having only experienced the country, until now, via this, now partitioned, community.
After breakfast, the three remaining NU students, Steve, Gordie and me, start to pack our scattered belongings. We do a load of bucket laundry while we still have hot water in the guest house, and we move about in a bumbbly fashion.
Around noon, a counselor comes to take the boys to their dorm (called a Hostel). Like army ants, a string of students come and carry their things to their room.
It is a little while longer before a trio of girls come and do the same for me. But they take my things just to a holding area while the room I will live in in is being cleaned. I am told to wait.
The girls are all very shy, and their delicate voices are hard to hear in the echo-y facilities. I make a departure from their company and head back to the guest house where I nap on the swivel chairs, next to the heater, in the conference room. After some time, I meander the campus and attune to my sense of lost-ness. As I drift, there are lots of lookers-on wondering why I am here and where I am going- but more specifically I can sense they wonder why I am alone.
In that moment, when the bus drove away, I felt ripped from a fabric of collective culture- but not the one I was here to be submerged in. "A'ha!" I become acutely aware of how the Naropa group, although adapting to each other during this orientation, was not well able to access the Bhutanese culture deeply and therefore not able to integrate into Bhutan. It is as though our bus was a cell, and we it's functional components; this cell floated from Paro to Trongsa in a self contained fashion, and in spite of so many individual intents to bond beyond the cell's perimeter: we were still actively being American with other Americans. It was in this moment I realized just how much we had remained our own unit rather than organically budding into this Buddhist place.
As My awareness piques- I am still wandering aimlessly when, suddenly, I hear a sweet voice from down the road. It's Clare, one of the Candian professors who is doing research and teacher training here. She called my name and my response must have been like the last black robin hearing the call of it's extinct species. She offers to let me join her- so I trapse into her flat and take salvation in a cup of coffee. There is no doubt- I am experiencing a kind of grief. The kind that only comes from an attachment you didn't even know you had.