Life The Way You Dream It To Be

Last week we flew to New Orleans for Charlie’s uncle who died hours after we arrived. In the days that followed, we helped clean out his apartment. “I would not have guessed he had so much stuff,” Charlie said. Uncle Lloyd liked to wear the same outfit everyday, so on the bed was a bag filled with light blue, short sleeved, button-up shirts, and underneath those were many pairs of his favorite navy blue pants. There was a straw hat he carried back from his post-retirement world travel to China, Russia, and other getaways. There was a mug with Far…

What I’ve Seen

I can’t sleep. I’m supposed to get up in 4.5 hours to take the long, 9 hour drive to Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement, but JET LAG. Usually I try to calm my brain. I use a sleep meditation podcast,or I find a mantra (I like “It’s ok to just rest. It’s ok to just rest. No, really, it’s ok to just rest.”). Tonight I tried walking through my house in my mind. My husband and I bought our first house a year and a half ago, and I’ve never loved a house more. I love the sunlight in our bedroom…

Driving a taxi in Kolkata

I imagine myself brave. One of my enduring memories from India happened within minutes of arriving. 36 college students touched down, and together we left the airport. Joel, our guide and arranger of every detail, had taxis waiting for us. I was giddy. I threw my suitcase into the trunk of this heavy metal, yellow car. I climbed in the back next to my sweaty travel mates. Joel gave us the name of the hotel, shouted it to the driver. We left. My eyes were stretched wide. The smell, the hot breeze from the open windows. I was chattering with my…

In Between Rwanda and Congo

  Along the southern point of Lake Kivu you can pass between Rwanda and Congo. A tiny prop plane will take you from Kigali right to the edge of the country. The flight takes thirty minutes, and they offer a quick snack of Coke and groundnuts while you watch the propeller spin outside. Fifteen minutes of smooth winding road curves around the edges of hills from which you can watch the fishing boats in the small bay. These roads eventually move down to the water’s edge and let you out at a busy little border crossing. There are loose papers…

Heading Out

  I’m getting ready to head out again. Before a trip I alternate between being anxious to see friends and being alone and thoughtful. I try to see lots of people and store up tiny moments to carry around with me in strange places. But tonight I am alone and I am quiet, dreaming a bit, wishing a bit, remembering the people I’ve met. Remembering the last time I was in Kigeme refugee camp and that Congolese family laughed down at me when when I asked to take their picture. I laughed, too. It is absurd after all to try…