Everyday there's a new development. Last Tuesday I had another prospect for someone to register me: Baba Valya, whom I sometimes sit and drink tea with outside. In my desperation I asked my landlord if he'd be willing to let me stay longer if I raised my rent. He was obstinate in his decision. He would have his apartment back. But he would help me ask some neighbors. This is how we came to ask Baba Valya. She'd already known of my situation. After talking for several minutes and a long phone conversation with my Counterpart, we came to an agreement that I could live with her until I found a place to live. But she refused to register me.
The next day I got a call from a friend of mine, Sergei. He wanted me to celebrate his vacation with him and his wife Zhenia by going to the local discotech. I had never been there before but I figured that this might be the last and only chance that I'd ever make it there. So I went and we had a few drinks and danced. I told Sergei about my situation and he was quickly on board to help. His mother lives in Moldova: a potential problem because everyone on the registration papers would need to be present at the passport office. However she was making a trip to Ukraine anyway and it would only take about a day for her to get here. She, the landlady, agreed to register me only if Sergei could get his sister to agree, for the mother has it in mind to hand over the property to her when time comes for it. I'm not sure if she agreed or not, but as it turned out there were other problems. Sergei's mom would only be here for a day and it would be on the weekend. The passport office is only open on Tuesday and Thursday. Furthermore, the property is located in a village outside of town but still technically in the same region. I didn't know if that would fly with Peace Corps. On Thursday, Sergei, Zhenia, and I went to my school to talk to my counterpart, who would inform them about everything that needed to be done. It would prove useless because Sergei would end up canceling on me. He had plans to go to Moldova with his wife for his vacation in a couple days. It was only out of the kindness of his heart that he was willing to go out of his way to make an attempt to help me. I can't blame him.
Back to square one. I figured that it would be wise to start looking ahead at my other options. While I was waiting for Peace Corp's permission to change sites to Kharkiv, I went ahead and got my contacts in the city looking for a place for me to live. I had already had three potential options for people to register me if only Peace Corps would agree to let me change sites. I received a call from my Regional Manager telling me that I could only register in the same town as my workplace (site), which is what is written on the documents that Peace Corps gave me. And because my site is in Shevchenkove and I would try to register in Kharkiv, it would technically not be abiding by the rules. Peace Corps would not give me new documents for a site change. So it came down to getting someone to register me in my town or leaving Ukraine. I said that I would try going to the passport office, despite the discrepancy in my paperwork just to see what would happen. But of course, I would have to wait until Tuesday. On Monday, I would meet with Karina to talk to her University about getting free housing in exchange for a de facto Peace Corps Volunteer.
The weekend passed with sleepless nights, the first bad slumber I've had since I saw Paranormal Activity. On Monday I went to Kharkiv to meet with my friend Karina. The meeting with her University staff went pretty well. Things looked up but I just couldn't get my hopes up. You always expect something to go wrong. I then went to my friend Christina Volodomirivna's office. She is the one who agreed to register me and also happens to be in a pretty high up position in the Kharkiv educational administration. Meanwhile I got a call from my Regional Manager telling me that I had no option but to COS (Close of Service [we sometimes use “COS” as a verb]). I then pleaded to let us at least try going to the passport office because one never knows until one tries.
I went home that night and called my Counterpart. She was aware of the situation and had better integrity than me. She refused to go through with the process due to the discrepancy in my paperwork. She had a lot more to lose than me because she and the school would be responsible. The consequences that they'd face, if there were any administrative action, would be much more severe than mine. And with that phone call it became clear. I would have to COS. Now I have less than three weeks to get everything done: paperwork, grant, medical & dental appointments, and goodbyes.
But even with all this, there just may be a silver lining. Once I COS, Peace Corps has no business with what I do with my life. Therefore, I can leave the country and reenter as a private citizen, “visiting” and leaving within the 90 day period, which is actually better than extending to December. This is what I originally wanted: to extend just long enough to do ABC Camp in the summer plus maybe one more (Harry Potter Camp) and have enough time to say my goodbyes and plan my next steps. But for now, my next step is to pack up and leave my apartment, because I have until the 15th to be out of here. And meanwhile, I wait to hear back from the immigration office to see if my plan to reenter is feasible.