Cheap tickets can be quite the adventure. I’m taking the long way down to South Africa this time, but the point is that I’m headed back. This trip is an amuse bouche for my longer stay.
This year has felt a little like a dream, but one where I’m conscious writing the lines and designing the plot. I’ve become a bit cautious writing my ideas in my journals because it feels a bit like witchcraft. Me writing down my ideas and dreams, the ink flowing off the page into my life.
Ten years out from one of the most consequential years of my life, it’s hard not to take notice. So many times this year I have been taken aback at how my life has changed over the past ten years.
Ten years ago I was desperate for meaning as each month seemed to break another piece of me off. Life was changing me…
“I am proud of the woman I am today, because I went through one hell of a time becoming her.”
I’m not going to recount all of the details of that year because I can’t fully. The year left marks, impressions, but its cloudy and I cannot see it clearly anymore. Nor, do I want to. I came through, so I didn’t have to be there anymore.
I about to head to the airport…My bags are packed. Items on my “To do” lists are crossed off. The playlists created. Time to take a deep breath and see what the second half of 2018 will do.
That’s the pace leading up to a departure date. So many things to do and many of them cannot be done in advance. As my travel date approaches the list grows and the pace quickens. Until the day of departure, when everything slows, clarifies, and simplifies. Today, the big push is packing.
But I’m not just packing. I’m also re-sorting my closet and culling my clothes for another donation run. Then I’ll sort through the clothes that are left and decide what to store and which ones to take back to South Africa in August.
Once the sorting, culling, and packing, is complete I feel a sense of calm. I know that feeling is coming. However, this time the trip that is coming on Monday will be the eye of the storm because when I come back the big move is happening. I’ll have to finish packing up my apartment and put everything into storage until a future, unknown date when I have an address again.
Its funny because I feel so hectic before I leave, but once I’m headed to the airport everything calms down for me and I’m in my happy space. For a lot of people travel is the hectic piece. In the airport they are scattered and a bit harried. Travel can be confusing and disorienting, but I think that’s some of what I really enjoy about it. I enjoy the fun of discovering new places. My favorites are bookstores, coffee shops, and the perfect vantage point to watch sunsets and sunrises. I don’t buy into the “life is a journey” cliche because the point of a journey is a destination. Is death really the destination of my life? I prefer the cliche that life is music (mostly jazz). We have ideas and pursue those ideas, but so much improve happens along the way. Songs do end. However, the music is the point. The beauty of the piece lies in it being played.
Okay…back to actually packing!
One of the best parts of traveling is meeting other travelers, people on the move either for business, fun, or both. On the tram in ATL I met a Delta pilot who was on his way home to celebrate the New Year with his family. He had family that had traveled from all over to meet up at his house and he was headed home after a Seattle->Detroit->Atlanta flight. I told him that I was headed to South Africa and what I teach. Then he told me about reading his children Desmond and the Very Mean Word by Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu. The book is about the power of words and the power of forgiveness. He said that his little ones are fascinated by the idea that what they say can change the world. I tossed out the idea that we have to be careful because the power can go both ways, for good and for ill, referencing the article The Rhetoric of Power that my students read. Then he mentioned King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail and how he was completely blown away the first time he read it in college. I completely agreed with him that its an absolutely brilliant piece of writing. Then he told me that the “fix sheet” pilots have for Atlanta has been written in such a way to include “I have a dream” within their “fixes”. He said that the one for Orlando includes Disney references. The technical communicator in me perked up because I’m not sure if this is only a Delta thing or if these sheets are created by the FAA? I’m guessing that these sheets change a bit for each city to keep the pilots focused because even though much of what they do is routine and they still need to be focused as to not skip parts of their routine. But I couldn’t find anymore information with the cursory search I did online.
I read an article stating that people cry more on planes and couple this with the phenomena of people confessing their secrets to strangers and I always have interesting travel experiences. I met two people on the flight from ATL to JNB because I usually have a hard time sleeping and so I’m up and about for parts of the flight. Cause, its a serious haul. Both of the people I met were traveling back home to South Africa after visiting new grandchildren in the US. The gentleman told me about moving to South Africa from England 13 years ago after retiring from “the motor trade” (he’d owned a Land Rover Dealership). He said he left because computerized pricing had taken the human skill out of the job, which was what he’d enjoyed most. When he and his family moved to SA they got their permanent residency through a “broker” which he fully believes now probably wasn’t really legal. He bought a property north of Pretoria and it sounded like he has what we may call a “hobby farm” in the states. He spent these past 13 years developing the property and he’s loved his experience. He’s not sure what the next few years are going to bring because his one daughter and family are in the US, he and his wife are getting older, and the property takes constant maintenance. Also, he said that he’s concerned about South Africa because the institutions are not functioning as they should, police and politicians are seen as equally corrupt and inept. But what country is living up to is promise right now? He comes from England and me from America-I’m not willing to pick up the first stone, that’s for sure!
The other passenger I met was coming back home after being in the U.S. to help her daughter with her second baby (nine years younger than her first grandchild). She said she had a marvelous time, but doesn’t know how often she’ll be able to come back because her other daughter in South Africa is severely disabled and can’t travel internationally. She wasn’t able to make the trip to America for several years because of her own health. She’d had a great trip but was anxious to get back to her daughter in South Africa. She’s in a home where she can receive the care she needs 24/7. However, while she was in America she’d received word that one of the aides had been abusively rough with her daughter and she wanted to get home and take care of things.
Each conversation ended like an act from a small play…we encountered some small turbulence, the seat belt sign was turned on, and we had to return to our seats.