On life, transience, and sticky feet

I love to travel (I also like long walks on the beach, but this isn’t that kind of website). In fact, I would go so far as to say that I have an almost insatiable case of wanderlust (not wander-lost, Tolkein had something to say about the latter). The idea of exploring new places, meeting interesting people, and finding myself waist-deep in the unknown has long held sway over me. As a result, I have a tendency to slip between the fingers of life, observing and participating but often failing to engage in a visceral and permanent way.

This isn’t to say that I don’t like people, I do, or that I haven’t been tempted by security, I have; but rather that I am enchanted by the open road. Given the choice between motion and stasis, I will almost always opt to get swept along (or to propel myself forward).

If you are thinking, my goodness this is horribly abstract writing, you would not be wrong. To the point — I have recently developed a case of sticky feet. It first hit me in mid-April when I became strangely reluctant to leave the comforts at home for the unpredictability of “abroad.” Again, at the end of my time in Copenhagen I found myself nostalgic for the routines that I had only had 5 weeks to form. And now again, in Zomba.

I leave tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn to begin pretesting and field work in Northern Malawi. I am excited to get back to the academic and dynamic side of my work after 2.5 months in CPH and Zomba (9-5 office hours are just not for me). And don’t get me wrong, I am also thrilled to explore Malawi more, see a new part of the world, and challenge myself by working with new people. On the other hand, I think I could more-comfortably wile away the last 4 weeks of my Malawi trip right here in IKI House.

So where does this leave me? Well at the moment I am sitting in a circle of belongings deciding what goes where in my bag (yay for the joys of packing and unpacking ever 3-4 weeks!). In an hour I will be listening to Goon Show recordings and bemoaning the light sunburn I acquired while strolling around the Zomba Botanical Gardens with my friend Beth today. In 4 hours I will be contemplating how much sleep I need before a 12 hour car ride. And in 24 hours I will be gone. In the meantime I want to say thank you to all of the people in Zomba who have made my time here worth remembering, worth growing nostalgic over. To Mike for rides to work, lunch lady visits, and mid-day naps on the golf course. To Beth for understanding that crazy and research go hand in hand, for organizing Liwonde, and for sharing. To Melody for teaching me about nsima, laughing at dinner, and being brave around giant bugs. To Jason for creepily reading my blog (I see you there!), high school, and catching most of my nerd-tastic references. To the local staff for taking it all in stride, working incredibly hard, and trying to teach me Chichewa. And to all of the other ex-pats and Malawians who have been warm, welcoming, and — more often than not — an absolute riot.

Bye Zomba, catch you on the flip side!


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