27 December 2006

The Dread of Anticipation

Its been difficult the past couple of weeks. I'm pretty psyched about leaving and beginning my field work, but I can't show that excitement to my family and close friends. It makes me feel great that they are sad I am leaving, because I know that they care. In the meantime, don't want to upset them further by constantly talking about what I need to get done and what I will do when I arrive in Maputo.

My husband, Chris, probably has it the worst. He's been watching the pile of clothes, research equipment, and travel gear piled on the floor next to my dresser growing daily. We've been sorting out my extensive leave of absence all Fall, but I still worry about him. The longest we've been apart before was 6 months, but I was in Washington state and he was in New York. He was not happy and I was so busy with work that I didn't have much time to think about my own state. Now I will be on the other side of the planet - with time to think and missing my sweetie. Chris will come for a few weeks visit in July and then again next December, and we will travel either up the Mozambique coast and/or to Great Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls, and the Okavango Delta. The last time he visited me in the field he was bored out of his mind. Long periods of time apart suck, but I could handle his bordom even less.

Cell phones and email are a double-edged sword. Part of me longs for the time when explorers took off for parts unknown and made their good-byes at the harbor. The occasional letter from back home might make a person sad or happy, but there wasn't much they could do on the other side of the world. With fairly instant connectivity, you never really get to leave home. Now the number of decisions increases. A traveler or explorer must worry about the situation that they are in, as well as all the stuff going on back home. Additionally, easy air travel means that you also need to think about what situtations you are willing to come back home for -- death, sickness, how sick, who is sick, etc. So while you are trying to understand and perhaps fit into an alien culture, you also need think about your culture back home.

I bring this all up because my dad went in for some heart problems the week before Christmas. He overdid it bringing the tree and decorations down out of the attic - plus a bunch of boxes of toys for Goodwill. Everything was okay, but my family spent a few days trying to find me (despite having told them I would be in San Antonio at Chris' mom's for Hannukah). Knowing that my parents aren't in the best health has also made undertaking this trip difficult. I felt the same way before Chris and I left for our trip around the world. Dad says not to come home if he dies because it doesn't matter, he'll be dead and he knows where he is going from there. He'll be dead, but how about my Mom? My brother Wil? The rest of the family? Would I be a bad daughter if I skipped the funeral? Am I a horrible person for even thinking about it? What if he had a heart attack and was in a coma? Or became disabled in some other way? Should I come home then? I know my dad would be happy if I came home, but he won't say it.

So I come back to the beginning. I am really excited about leaving, but dreading it just the same. And I need to keep it all to myself.

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