I will be learning the language Pulaar! It’s what I wanted. Fulakunnda. This means I will probably be in Kolda. I’m so excited. Pulaar is also more widely spoken in West Africa than Wolof, so this is good.
I’m leaving tomorrow morning (today) — Tuesday — at 9:30 a.m. to Washington, D.C. I have been packing for many hours straight in this hot, humid NYC weather, with the help of oscillating fans, lemonade, and Rafael. Everything came down to the final minute. I am not a pre-packer. Had a few friends over tonight for an intimate goodbye. Whew… what a day. So bittersweet. So much love all around and I know I’ll come back to everyone. Next stop, D.C. for one night, then Dakar!
My living space is in a much better state now. The walls are bare, the trash is out, and I think I’ve finally figured out which electronic cords I actually want to keep (I’ve kept a heaping bag full of various USB, phone, & stereo connectors for years).
Despite the stress, it has been nice to pause and read things as I hover over the recycling bin with a stack of papers. I’ve read several of my college essays (all of which I’ve kept) and the best parts of them: professors’ feedback. These comments were helpful to me at the time I first received them, but I think they are even more meaningful now. I can re-read my essays with some distance, and I now see exactly what my professors were saying about how my argument was not convincing enough, or my transitions were too brusque. It was hard to accept these criticisms a week or two after I’d spent a few all-nighters writing something, but after a few years, I see myself for who I was: a student. A student who needed guidance and critique in order to grow. There was one essay where I left some sentences unfinished–I swear I must have been on crack–and now those lines bear the blood of the professor’s red circlings and of the wordless expression, “???”
I have also stopped to read the many greeting cards that I’ve amassed over time. It’s in my nature to whittle these down to a select few, but I’ve decided to keep most of them–the happy birthdays, the thank yous, the announcements. It has been unbelievably touching to read the cards from my parents the day I graduated college, and to well up as I re-read my mom saying that that day was as big a day for her as it was for me. Or the love letters. Or the cards simply saying “thank you” for being a good friend. What a wonderful process to go through, to purge all your belongings, a practice that forces you to really read things and understand how much love there is. This whole experience of saying goodbye has astounded me: it is so melancholy, but at the same time, I never realized how much I would be missed, or that there were that many people to miss me in the first place. Wow. (I love you guys too!)
I’ve unwillingly started to say my goodbyes. First there were a few people at work who were leaving for summer vacations, then there were friends who will be out of town in the coming weeks. It was weird at first, because truthfully I’m not leaving for about a month. But in between now and my flight to Dakar, I’m going to San Diego, seeing family, and doing a lot of packing. This weekend will be my last to spend time with the majority of my friends. I am sadly starting to realize there will be many people who I won’t even be able to see this weekend, and thus, I will not be able to say goodbye in person to them. It’s a strange feeling. But once you make a decision to say “goodbye, keep in touch,” it’s goodbye, and there is a neatness to that. I’ve tidied things up, but not quite. All my doctors have been seen, prescriptions obtained, bills and paperwork squared away. And yet I come home every day to the epicenter of the chaos: my small room, a crowded mess of possessions. Somehow the logjam of my material goods (what to keep? what to craigslist? where to put things?) has created more perceptible havoc than the very intricate world of friendships, arrangements, and goodbyes. I deeply appreciate the well-wishes and the space people are giving me to do what I need to do. In the end, I guess it comes down to actually packing the bags and shipping out.
Because nothin’ says Amurrica like baseball and fireworks.
The other day I went with a friend to Flushing to have some Taiwanese food. We met as conversation partners at the International Center, and this was the last time I’d see her before she went back to Taiwan and I went to Senegal. Other than one amazing trip to Spa Castle (and an equally luscious meal at Spicy & Tasty) I hadn’t spent much time in Flushing, Queens. It’s nice to get out of the Manhattan-Brooklyn grind. I caught a glance of Citi Field out of the window of the 7 train. Gu-Shine is apparently one of the best Taiwanese restaurants in all of the New York City area. And of course there aren’t many good (if any) Taiwanese restaurants in Chinatown. Flushing is where it’s at.
Delicious Senegalese food over Kenyan lagers in Clinton Hill with Jessica. I had the Thiebou jenn. Delish.