Back to Petionville

Yesterday afternoon I visited the site of the Father Wasson Center, the 6-story building that collapsed with Molly, Erin, Ryan, Dr. Castro, and myself inside.

It's just a hole now, with a few abandoned UNICEF tents inside and weeds growing wildly. All of the rubble has been cleared away.

I'm not really sure what I was expecting, but my chest was tight and my breathing rapid the second we turned the corner and I saw the tilted NPFS sign hanging over the new corrugated metal fence that haphazardly guards the vacant lot.

I couldn't really cry; I had an audience. The driver went to repark the car so he asked if I could hop into the back of a police truck to look over the fence. The officer in the back knew why I was there, but that didn't stop him from chatting me up and trying to get my e-mail address so we could communicate when I got back to the states. He must have pretty low standards if a sweaty American in scrubs who is trying not to hyperventilate in the back of his truck tickles his fancy. Frustrating experience.

I hopped out of the truck and the driver helped me push the fence in at a weak spot so I could go in. But I still had an audience, so I still haven't really cried in Haiti so far.

But that's the thing. Even on the anniversary and visiting the building, I couldn't force the release of tears or the rush of feelings. In my experience the last year, they show up at incredibly inconvenient or just random times. That's how it is. Maybe it'll catch up with me eventually; this idea that I finished the circle and said goodbye.

I've had many well-intentioned people wish me closure, peace, and healing on this trip. I appreciate the sentiment and have been able to find a bit of all three. But I do hope that people don't consider my attention and passion for Haiti as something that needs to be cured or fixed. I may come back with a less edgy attitude towards the whole thing, but Haiti is not going away in my life. It is not a disease or the white elephant in the room. Sometimes I resent Haiti for bringing an unexpected path to my life, for taking Molly, and for making it difficult for me to relate as easily to others. Sometimes I hate Haiti for those reasons. Sometimes I hate Haiti a lot. But sometimes I am also incredibly grateful for the richness of experience and the amount of conviction and passion Haiti has brought to my life.

I have sewn up some wounds but the scars will always be there, and I hope for the support of friends and family in continuing my journey of being connected to Haiti. Haiti is not going away. I will never "snap out of it." Problems here - and elsewhere - are still incredibly huge and real. So I will continue to do what I can, continue to read about it, continue to discuss it, and continue to care.

Haiti is not going away.

But I am, on a 10:50 am flight. See you soon Seattle. Haiti, m'ap tounen. I'll return.