Much sooner than I had initially anticipated I find myself with access to wi-fi and therefore writing twice in one day. I’m currently in Philadelphia, waiting for the duration of my three hour layover in my terminal, looking out the window and at planes taxiing and fueling up. The flight from NC was uneventful, for which I’m very grateful.
Leaving, however, was much harder than I anticipated. Until very recently I did not really realize how long ten weeks is to go without seeing my family. For some reason, this feels vastly different than going ten weeks at school (which I have done). Perhaps because this trip truly is different than going back to school. My life seems like one big transition lately; I never seem to stay anywhere long enough for the dust to settle. This isn’t necessarily bad- I was home long enough to consume enough sweet tea to nourish a small population of people and able to get all my kitty snuggles in. But the wandering must recommence sooner rather than later, otherwise the impossible lethargy becomes too consuming to bear. Sometimes I feel like I’m asleep while awake, completely apathetic to my own inaction and desire to laze about. Maybe that’s healthy, maybe I need those few weeks of deep rest in order to care so much the rest of the time.
As much as I often feel like a cloud of indifference, neither here nor there, I feel so deeply ten times more. Freud would have a field day with me and my lapses.
Enough metaphysical pontification! Time for a story.
Before I went through security, my Dad handed me a few parting gifts, one being a bag of peanut m&ms. If you notice in this video I mentioned that eating peanut m&ms while abroad is something of a blossoming tradition in the M. household, and this tradition, like all such traditions, is rooted in something of a story.
And, conveniently enough for me, this story takes place in Uganda. Four years ago I was fourteen and in the summer after my first year of high school. I’d never left the country but had nurtured a desire to go to Africa since meeting Peace Corps volunteers in the seventh grade (and really, before then too, but that’s the most concrete time I ever remember declaring myself to be a future Peace Corps volunteer (I have since decided to not do Peace Corps in lieu of perhaps working with MCC/water.org/some other fabulous smaller NGO(I also rather like this triple paranthetical statement, but where was I?(right, Uganda, 14)))) point being, I was very young and very naive. I don’t dare to say I’m neither of those things now, but I have grown up a little since then.
Everything was magical when I first landed in Entebbe. In part this was the marvel of leaving all you know to enter a new place, but mostly it was because Uganda is truly a magical place. (I do well to remember, when I’m close to panicking on the plane). That first time to Africa was a pilgrimage with Duke Divinity school and, in more ways than I can enumerate, would profoundly impact my life for years to come. Most obviously, I’m going back to Uganda to live with friends I met on said trip.
And this one friend particular friend (one Thera, whom you can check out here) had been living in Uganda for some time. On one of our many long and excruciatingly bumpy rides in the bus, she was telling us about how much she missed salty, crunchy food (of which, as I recall, there is not a lot of in Uganda). Her parents had sent her a care package, and tucked in the box was a bag of nothing other than…you guessed it! Peanut M&Ms. She said she opened the bag and smelled it for an hour before even eating one.
Needless to say, while she was telling us this tale, I wanted nothing more than a peanut m&m at that moment. When none were readily available, I promptly forgot about the tale. Assuredly, I was educating one of the Ugandan priests accompanying us on Led Zeppelin (don’t judge- I was fourteen, after all) which was of equal amusement.
But, come June of 2010, when I was once again breathing deeply African air in Ghana, I was reminded of this tale. And despite the fact that Ghana is the distance from Uganda as California is to North Carolina (have I mentioned that Africa is FIVE TIMES the size of the continental United States?) something universally true about being away from the states made me miss peanut m&ms. When, a week into our voyage, I was complaining about this to my mother, she giggled and pulled out of her suitcase pringles and…a heaven-sent bag of peanut m&ms.
So while many cravings and wishes I might have while in Uganda may be silly, unfulfillable, or really unnecessary I always allow myself now to bring a bag of said divine, crunchy, salty, and sweet candies. In the aforementioned video I was in Canada, and while Montréal is not exactly a vast world away from the USA, international traveling traditions are to be honored! My Dad had bought me the m&ms for that trip, too.
So, thanks Dad for keeping the tradition alive.
Now I’ve got to try and find something mildly healthy and fresh in this airport to eat before my flight. Bruxelles, je viendrai! (Je pense que cette phrase est correcte, mais je ne suis pas sûr…)
current jam: “thistle & weeds” mumford & sons
best thing in my life right now: safe and merciful travelings. and this incredible video the allmadeofawesome girls put together for me!!
i need a new third sign off…suggestions? i don’t want to count down to returning back to the states, so i’m in a puzzle.