Monday, January 16, 2023

Final post, Sunday, Jan. 16: Asante Sana Sana, Tanzania

It is true that we have arrived in Minneapolis. It is true that we are probably all resting on a couch–reading or reminiscing–or on a bed fast asleep. It is true that sleep deprivation has taken a toll on us, let’s call it a tax on our good time. It is true that we will likely not be setting alarms for tomorrow.

It is true that, for those of us that had the chance to reconnect with loved ones, we definitely took that opportunity today. It is also true, taking from “Mr. Peabody and Sherman,” that we all have new people in our lives we hold a deep concern for.

Can you imagine how this trip went for us? Can you imagine how we remember it?

Have you ever seen the fog of a tree canopy rolling over the brush in the distance, isolated by the contrast between the expanse of barren dirt and grass with the unending, painted sky? Have you ever seen a pack of wild dogs take a dip in the same body of water that flows past the bed you slept in? Do you remember their mottled fur, striking at the tips of their tails with a silver glow?

Have you ever heard voices sing or laughter cast that make you smile unconsciously? Did you also find it impossible to not smile in these moments? Have you ever taken Pepto? Have you ever heard the witty banter from your own professors? Did you find yourself surprised by them?

Have you ever heard a cheetah chirp to its sibling? Have you ever heard a lioness call out to her pride? Have you ever seen the mane of a lion accompanied by its golden-eyed glare? Have you ever seen a 3-foot tall elephant ear on one of those massive, glorious animals?

Have you ever tried something so completely new to you and enjoyed it because of the company of someone who knows what they’re doing? Can you count on two hands the number of these new life moments you experienced over the weeks of this trip? Have you ever learned more about other people and cultures in the span of three weeks? Do you also find yourself wanting to learn more about those you traveled with?

Have you ever felt the process of your life changing for the better?

The memories we now hold answer these questions. I know this is true, even as my head knocks itself to sleep over and over as I write this. It’s true because we’ve been breathing in all of the last bit of time our trip had to offer us, with no desire to exhale. Right now we are holding that breath in, peacefully, and perchance a bit choked up and cathartic. Then, as we continue living, that breath will slowly find its way into the people we share our stories with, only after having steeped thoroughly in ourselves, leaving the gathered memories of this trip flowing through the walls of our veins forever.

Don’t believe me? I think our last group picture more than proves it.

Paul, Matt, Ken, Abby, Aidanne, Braedon, Claire, Halima, Hannah, Lucy, Maria, Mia, Morgan, Steve, Sydney, Tommy—it was truly an honor.

—Blog post by Tommy