I’m hanging out in the Brussels airport waiting for my connection to Dakar. This is a trip 23 years in the making, and for a long time I wasn’t sure it would ever happen – I thought maybe I had let the dream die – so I’m a little amazed that I’m finally following through after so many false starts and delays.
My 13 year-old self would be so psyched for me, though she might also be like, “What took you so long?” It was in French class that year that I learned about francophone West Africa and seized upon Senegal as the most fantastic-looking place on earth. I thought about studying abroad there in college, I thought about going right after college, I thought about spending a few months there instead of going to grad school, I thought about spending a few months there after grad school, I thought about going there for vacation two years ago… I thought about it a lot over many years, but I always wimped out or felt like the timing or my financial situation wasn’t right.
And then two years ago after I returned from my vacation to Argentina, where I had gone with a decade’s worth of airline miles originally earmarked for Senegal, I decided that if I didn’t start making serious plans it would never happen – and I still really wanted it to happen. So I did start making plans, and now here I am with nothing standing between me and my long-held dream but a few hours in the airport and a six-hour flight. Not to get too epic about it – but it does feel epic in my own personal journey.
I hope I love Senegal as much as I’ve always believed I would, but even if I don’t, just stepping foot there is going to be surreal and awesome.
And with that, I’m going to go find my gate.
[The picture above was drawn by my lovely friends, who have a whimsical view of both life and my baggage situation.]