africa part i

i was looking for my sister and brother in the amsterdam airport. knowing they were looking for me, too, made me feel like they were everywhere. it had been 9 months since i’d seen them. too long for any of us… first i spotted walker, tall and bear-like as he is, it wasn’t too hard to see him coming round a corner in a wave of smaller folks, looking wide-eyed, trying to get out of his confident stride. i immediately felt like things were taken care of , even if i am the older sibling..  he has that effect. like nothing is going to get too weird if walker is there. sophie was on a mission somewhere, getting food or going pee, and we kept missing her, until there she was, too, with her green eyes and we were doing our weird sister happy faces. suddenly i could just breathe deep. twins.

on the plane i watched a french movie called mon roi with vincent cassel.. it was beautiful and troubling and explosive. i remembered this line ‘you break up with people for the exact same reason you were attracted to them..’ i pondered it for a while before becoming distracted by other passengers on the plane. there was a couple in full on khaki gear, head to toe, with more pockets than i’ve seen in my life, as though they might need to get low to the ground as soon as they hit the tarmac. the guy across the aisle from me had an elaborate watch, that i think may also have been a compass (?). he checked it repeatedly and i wondered what could possibly need that much observance from the air somewhere between amsterdam and arushka. is everyone visiting africa going to be a total freak? i began to imagine high strung people arriving in droves sporting the latest outdoor tech gear and colonialist outfits. i thought about a few unfortunate outfit choices i had brought as well…

in arushka, the scene looked a little more normal than my section of the plane. we moved through visa checks and i saw our parents waiting through the entrance against the night blues. it was a humid evening and dad wore a white button up shirt which made him look shockingly tan against silver hair. i commented that he was looking like the ‘most interesting man in the world’ from the dos equis commercials. “what’s that?” he asked.

we gave big hugs. it had been a long time since the 5 of us had been together, and this trip had been the reunion we’d all been waiting for. africa was the trip my parents dreamed of doing with us growing up. here we were, still kid-like in our mid and (late) 20’s, tall, animated and spread out all over the place – west coast, east coast, me in france, which tends to feel like another planet when the rest of my family gathers up on the pacific northwest.

i got excited and started acting like a crazy person when i saw the car, a land rover with 6 big leaning seats, huge windows and a pop up roof for standing. i’m sure the people from the plane reacted normally to their vehicles. i started thinking about all the adventures we were to have, the things we would see, the hours driving in tanzania parks and experiencing the things i had grown up with from national geographic and the discovery channel… the childhood dreamcatcheer  — africa.

we were all fading by the time we got to the sweet little lodge outside of arushka. the staff kept dinner open late for us and we ate peppered steak, drank sweet juice and tucked into our mosquito nets under thatched bungalow roofs.

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