The very first list in my book was created way back in October of 2010, shortly after I got here. It’s a list of things I thought I would miss. In April of 2012 I wrote a list of what I actually did miss and compared the two. There are things that showed up on both lists like salads with ranch dressing and driving. There are things I thought I would miss but didn’t really, like fabric softener. And things that I didn’t predict the first time around like thunderstorms and customer service.
Also early on, I made a list of reasons to move out from my first host family. Re-reading it makes me even more thankful for the family I have now. Examples from this list: no lock on my bedroom door (that actually violates Peace Corps policy) and trying to dictate what time I could go to bed.
There are accountings of books I’ve read, media I’ve watched, and posts to my blog (this one makes 175). There are lists to remind me about my life here including a list of restaurants I’ve been to in Balkanabat (12, if you can believe it), all the clubs I’ve ever taught, the names of my fellow volunteers and their sites, and all the maladies I’ve suffered here.
I have a log of all the letters I’ve received since I’ve been here. I was going to save them all, but soon realized the futility of that when I can only bring two suitcases back and ultimately those letters would sit in a box in my parents’ basement. I’ve kept a few that were particularly meaningful to me. But all of them have been recorded with the date they were postmarked in the U.S. and who sent them. My mom is the letters log all-star. So far, I’ve gotten 277 letters; 223 from her. She’s the best mom in the world.
I’ve also made lists about coming home, like which restaurants I want to visit and what dishes my mom has to make as well as the movies and TV shows I need to get on Netflix to catch up. Perhaps my favorite list from this category is the “One day in America I will…” list. It starts with that title and is composed of entries like…eat a potato with the skin still on it,…go a day without hearing the doorbell or phone ring, and…enter an orderly queue.
Lists are a great way to organize your thoughts or record events without the extra writing that journaling requires. Lists are also an easy way to combat listlessness. Feel free to use that one at your next dinner party.