As most of you know, I decided to venture home for the holidays. (Hence my lack of blog posts…) So here it goes, all in one post — from beginning to end, from anticipation to excitement to see you later, and to all that’s in between.
As we approached Charlotte, North Carolina I could hardly stay in my seat — the upcoming get togethers, the Christmas music, the people, the hugs were all waiting for me. And before I knew it, my trip came to an end. All those unfulfilled coffee dates, all those ski trips and sleepovers will have to wait until next year.
As I sit in the airport, on my way back to Cape Verde, I feel like Santa Claus, Willy Wonka, and the Easter Bunny all rolled into one. My bags are stuffed, literally stuffed — zippers busting, no space to spare and all labeled with that obnoxious orange tag: heavy. My carry-on bags are leaving trails of Reese’s cups everywhere I go. I even stuffed my jean pockets. No room for even the smallest toothpick. Most of all, my bags are stuffed with pieces of you — care, adoration and curiosity for the unfamiliar, the developing, and the future.
It’s been a trip — a seesaw, if you will. I was ecstatic to see family and friends, yet distanced by experiences that cannot be adequately shared; overwhelmed with choice and bombarded with extravagance; appreciative of the overlooked — the once expected; horrified of my wastefulness yet happily pampered with amenities.
As I looked down the toothpaste aisle, forced to choose between whitening toothpaste, advanced care toothpaste, and toothpaste with fresh breath crystals, while also deciding between three different brands, I thought when does this end? Do we really need twenty different types of toothpaste? Do we need a television in every room of our house? Do we need a pair of shoes for every outfit that we will probably wear only once? Why not use this innovation, this creativity to create clean water systems or renewable energy sources?
I say this in the best possible light – I am questioning myself; I am blaming myself. It’s an addiction of a sort – once you have a new pair of jeans, you need that perfect shirt to go with it and then comes accessories and then comes the next season or the new trend or the new hairstyle…It’s hard, if not impossible, not to succumb to this world we have created and are immersed in every day and in every way.
Don’t get me wrong, I love America! I’ve never appreciated this land of opportunity so much in my life. And that’s why it makes it hard to say goodbye, to give that last hug with a see you later. I did it in July and I’m doing it again now. Time to return to school, to responsibility, after a whirlwind of a visit in America. It just doesn’t get easier to leave the familiar – friends, family, home and yes, my soul food.
And so to end on a positive note, here are just a few of my newly appreciated fascinations with America the beautiful —
1. Hot, clean, pressurized water
I couldn’t get out of the shower. I’ve never felt so clean. I scrubbed; I soaked; I exfoliated. In Cape Verde, we refer to our feet as “paws” because no matter how many times you clean them, they always seem to be dirty. No more paws for me…at least for the next couple of days.
2. The smell of laundry
Using a fuzzy towel; snuggling under clean sheets, putting on a comfy sweatshirt that surrounds you with the smell of fabric softener.
3. Automatic flushers
As I walked off the plane, the first thing I did was tour the bathroom. I couldn’t believe it — automatic flushers, faucets and dryers! And an added bonus, you can actually put toilet paper down the toilet!
All you have to do is put your clothes in the washer and come back in thirty minutes…it’s genius.
5. Fountain drinks
An endless amount of goodness where you can mix flavors, drink all you want, while enjoying the crunchy goodness of crushed ice cubes!
6. Peppermint Candy Cane Tootsie Pops
It’s Christmas on a stick.
7. Endless amounts of veggies and fruit
Our food is so colorful, like a rainbow of exploding flavors and best of all, it’s available in a jiffy, no matter where you go — store, restaurant, and in many backyards.
8. And most of all, that feeling you get when you see an old friend and it seems like you just saw him/her yesterday — you simply pick up where you left off.