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Published: July 30th 2009
050 - USA - San Diego
The End: Back to Americana
Check out the pictures from our final leg of the trip: Family photos from the West Coast. Click here.
What a time to be back. Coming home to Americana after 14 months of traveling the world is like jumping into a lake of ice water: it’s a shock to the system. Add to that, a bearish economy, a dry job market, and significant losses to once booming investments, and it’s like jumping into a lake of ice water with a lead weight anchored to your feet!
Lucky for me, I found a job immediately. Monday morning, at work, staring at my computer monitor, a new job, a new company, but eerily the same. Did I ever leave? Was it all just a dream? No time to think about it. I have to focus, I have to get back on the fast track, resume my career, start spending, start saving, start planning, start talking, start smiling, start schmoozing. Back to where I started from, maybe a few steps back, but not so bad, all things considered. So I get caught up like the rest of us: 40 hour work weeks, office politics, 3-day only sales, weekend crowds, membership cards, credit card offers, rent deposits, loan applications, blah, blah, blah… whoah!!! I slow down... I breathe... I think of what’s passed.
I think of paradise, Gili Air, a tiny island in the sun, simple in its existence. An underwater world, pulsating with life, providing food for those that fish its waters, or income for the few that dive its reefs. In a country of morning prayers and limited resources, of hardened tour operators and corrupt police, of tradition and progress, one woman’s dream to send her children to school materializes: one meal at a time, one customer at a time, Miskah saves it all, so that hers can succeed where most others will fail.
I think of Jhonny and the Hogar Penny girls of Oruro, existing minimally, so happy to talk to me and give to me (me who has everything!) more love than I could ever imagine, let alone try to give back. Girls ecstatic over cotton candy, who never had a father, brother, uncle to take them out for ice cream, who put their faith in God and pray, and I pray too, that they survive and they flourish with all odds against them.
I think of a love, a list, 250 good things to do before you die. To give back to Lamu. To empower one person at a time, one community, one Africa. One love never rang so true.
I think of the Morningstars, of Virginia City, of stars diminished yet vibrant in the eyes of neighbors that stand steadfast as family. A refreshing unity of simplicity in the upheaval of progressive forget.
I think of Tirfe, my grandmother’s old nanny, 100 year old and living in Dire Dawa. Losing all 14 of her children, still walking, still smiling, still loving the land of a country that threw its citizens out to dry, took their crops, shot their teachers, and dared them to stand up again. A country of children dancing along the roadside for an empty water bottle donation. A stranger hugging my mother, a white sister, expressing gratitude for a community that still gives him hope, for a love that can’t be quenched by the genocide of misinterpreted intellect. A hope that fills the used water bottles, spills over onto its children, and shows the world what love is.
I think of my family, my friends, my fiancé. The family plan is laid out. No more wandering, I know where I am. I have a GPS, a PDA, an American Express, and I’m lost. How can I be lost? I’m succeeding right where I left off: my soul tethered to my finger, a silver balloon, watching from above, jerking down with every step I take.
I walk on. Overwhelmed with gratitude, the luckiest man in the world: 14 months of proof, 29 years of experience, friends supporting me since grade school, my family a rock of unwavering support, and a woman who stares deep into my soul and still wants to spend the rest of her life with me. Yes, I am thankful. Eternally, and utterly grateful.
Thank you for being there. Thank you for listening. Thank you for sharing. I will miss the times we had together. It was the time of our lives.
Do It Like The Locals out.
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