The Oath

15 Jun

I loved everything about swearing-in day yesterday; the trip to the hotel; the unexpected amount of cameras and video crews; the speeches – both in English, Azerbaijani, and a few highlighting the celebration of Peace Corps’ ten years in Azerbaijan; the chatting with fellow volunteers and friends and new acquaintances; but there were two things I liked the most.

FIRST – and I know you were all on the edge of your seats for this one – the piano playing did NOT suck terribly. (Hollah!)

At least, that is my biased opinion, and I’ve firmly decided that I am allowed to look at it from a personal standpoint. I have rarely performed at this sort of event, and  I did so confidently. Furthermore, those songs weren’t so challenging, but I haven’t played in such a long time – and I learned them. Like, seriously learned them. Which was good, because at the ceremony, during the end of the Azerbaijani National Anthem, the air conditioning turned on right above the piano and flipped over my sheet music. I made something up a bit, and (hopefully) no one noticed. Or at least they didn’t tell me. Or, rather, I don’t think I would have cared anyway. It was a big challenge, and I did it, and I loved it. I feel so great about the whole piano part it was totally worth it.

SECOND, I choked up a bit, team. Like, there were some serious tears about ready to stroll down my face, and not at all when I expected it – because I seriously did not expect it at all, especially when it did.

There is an actual swearing-in component (in case that wasn’t obvious), during which the Ambassador administers the following:

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States
against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;
that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well
and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

It takes quite the solemn turn. After laughing together and enjoying heartfelt speeches, we suddenly stand up, raise our right hands, and together vow to serve. As the Ambassador read the line, “defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies…” I don’t even know what happened, but a got just totally verklempt and it was bizarre and beautiful and I felt so much more… connected, maybe? or confident? or excited? I can’t exactly pin it, which is why I’m turning to Linda Richman to summarize it all as totally verklempt.

I had to sneakily wipe away a few strays, but we proceeded along faithfully until we pulled a Justice Roberts and fumbled the ending after the Ambassador went a little long. Such is life, though, and it made it all the more special.

It was not a moment I had heavily considered, though it was really what the day was all about – I mean they don’t call it “Swearing In Day” for nothing.  More than anything, those words and, of course, picturing Mike Myers in drag, encouraged me to seriously consider our place as volunteers during the next two years – which we are OFFICIALLY starting!

I think I’ve said this too many times but I can hardly believe we are actually doing what we have talked so long about doing. I feel like I’m nine years old again when I couldn’t wait to be ten so I could be two handfuls and now I don’t even want to consider how many handfuls old I am because it all happened so fast and I STILL remember looking forward to being two  and now its so long ago I feel as if I’m a completely different person looking back on that weird moment and I’m not even sure why I’m putting this much emphasis on turning ten nor why I’m using it in a run-on sentence, but that’s how quickly and intensely and amazingly I feel about finally being here. Now.

There are big things up ahead, people. Big things – and I’m totally ready.

Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear’d, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair’d in the adamant of Time.
– Walt Whitman, “America”

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