I took my first flight when I was three years old. I was too young to have any real memories of that flight, but I do have pictures of my mom and I standing outside of the airport in San Diego, waiting to go inside where I would be passed off from my mom to a flight attendant, stewardess way back then in 1975, for the flight to Hobby Airport in Houston, TX. I must have flown twenty more times by myself before long distance driving became my family’s preferred mode of travel. I always thought it was because my mom liked road trips, but after reading “The Skies Belong to Us” by Brendan I. Koerner, I think it could also be that in the 1970s, hijackings made flying the ‘friendly’ skies much less friendly.
Koerner’s attention to details highlight a country learning how to navigate the increased number of flights, while trying to understand the personality traits of plane hijackers – and a small note here – many of the first hijackers were disillusioned military veterans – young men who had been sent to Vietnam to fight in a way they couldn’t understand, seemed to just want to get home – wherever home was to them – and hijacking a plane seemed the best way to go.
There was a time, a couple of years ago, when I was juggling three blogs on a full-time basis. Here, on Bubbles, I talked about whatever came into my heart or head and shared stories about being a single mom, having a broken heart, and trying to figure out my place in the world. Over on Trois Coccinelles, I tried to give a space to emerging writers so that they’d have an opportunity to share their work with readers who would care and way over on Green Eyes, Good Hair, I wrote about race and our obsession with pretending we’re a post-racial society when the truth is that we’re just the opposite.
It was easy to merge Trois Coccinelles with Bubbles – there was no anonymity in either site and a writer can write about words easily (sometimes), regardless of its their own words or those of their friends and soon-to-be-friends.
Today is my 42nd birthday. I remember being a kid and thinking there was no way I’d live to be so old. I couldn’t even imagine how old I’d be at 30, let alone 42. Yet here I am. I’m not only 42, but I’m happier each year than the last and that counts for just about everything.
When my mom turned 42 she had two daughters – me, a 15 year old, and my sister, a 5 year old. She was battling some of her worst depression and had been in and out of mental hospitals over the years. I was about a year from moving out of the house and about four years from arriving in New York City, pregnant, with my best friend and partner, Ms. A.
A few weeks ago I had a moment to think back over the past few birthdays. I’ve spent them everywhere, but at home. I’ve been in Washington, DC and Chicago and Ethiopia – but rarely here. Some of it was work-related, other trips were more personal, but each trip was about being away – this birthday, almost by accident, has been about being home.
Sunday afternoons in Yonkers used to be ‘What We’re Cooking Sundays’ but the girl-child is gone away for her summer job in the woods. She was home for a few hours on Friday night to wash her laundry, flush some toilets (her camp is in the woods and those woods do not come with built in plumbing) and to watch ‘Orange is the New Black’ with the three girls who came home with her for the night.
With A, her three friends, me, Britney the Wonder Cat and Chloe the Super Bunny, there were seven women in the house at once. I’d say it was too loud, or too many people or too something, but the truth is that I love it. When I was a kid, the last thing on my mind was having children. I thought I’d be a spy, traveling all over the world doing good – I thought all spies were good – it was the 80s, what did I know. I thought I’d live in Australia and raise koalas. Then I imagined I’d move to Japan and be a sushi chef. Once, I thought I’d build beautiful places like the Taj Majal or fight fires like Smokey the Bear. I am nothing if not a product of being born in 1972.
If you’re a lover of books, and burdened with the ability to read way too fast, what do you bring on a 17 hour flight from New York City to Ethiopia?
If you’re a political junkie and lover of all things electorate, you pack “HRC” by Jonathan Allen, which documents the time between Hillary’s defeat during the 2008 Democratic primary and selection, and ultimately her political rebirth as Secretary of State in the Obama administration.
I remember reading “Game Change” a couple of years ago and thinking that to have been on the very inside of either the Obama or Clinton campaign would have been both inspirational and disheartening. In order to achieve as much as Hillary Clinton has, it must have been heart-breaking for her to lose in the primary to a young unknown senator from Illinois.
(Originally written on July 5th, before there was wifi service)…
I’m at Bole Airport in Addis Ababa. What a trip. We’ve had everything you could ask for and more. Lost luggage. Found luggage. Cancelled flights. Customs inspections. Roadside accidents. This trip has taught a lot of us so much. Never again will we travel without phones on the network of the country we’re in, we’ll never take out too much case from an ATM because banks don’t like to buy back their own money. And we all admit we need more than a week.
There it is: Building something takes time. As far as Seeds staff go, I’m pretty new. Two and a half years. In that time I’ve visited Ethiopia twice and have two more trips I’d like to make next year. One for a world economic summit and one to close the deal on our school land lease. I’m hoping to make that one with our founder.
It’s just about 99km from Addis Ababa to Adama. On the road to Adama you see so much. Caravans of oxen being herded along the shoulder of the highway. Small converted motorcycle buggies called tuk tuks traveling along at semi precarious speeds, children walking along the road waving at cars and large buses taking people to and from the capital city for jobs, schools or just because that’s where they need to be.
All you need is love…
Being in Ethiopia reminds me of something, and until this afternoon, I was trying to figure out what. Then, after realizing our new garden project is shaped in the form of a heart and having another stone heart pointed out to me when we arrived at our guest lodge, I understood what I had forgotten.
My writing partner, Huguenot O. Smith asked me if being back in Ethiopia was as wonderful as I remembered and I wasn’t sure.
I’d just flown 24 hours across oceans and time zones and was pretty exhausted when I landed and wasn’t sure if maybe I was too tired to answer. This morning I had my answer: it’s better.
In the U.S. we have very few customs of respect towards others that we follow regularly. I’m from a family of old southerners so I grew up calling all adults by their appropriate prefix and first name. Ms. Ethel Mae, Grandma Leola, Uncle Marco. I never knew adults could be called by their first names until I became a teenager. We rush around, especially in New York, and we try to accomplish so much in so little time and sometimes we do it with a smile, but more often it’s with scowls and grimaces. I hear the world doesn’t always work like that but it’s rare that I get to see it.