I have mentioned before how I am not a fan of the Disney princesses. However, I will admit that the one exception to that rule is that I always did like Belle in Beauty and the Beast. I was a middle-schooler when I saw this movie, and when she sang the lines above, I felt my heart swell because I too always wanted an adventurous life where I was able to see the world and find people who understood me. Ransom Middle School in Cantonment, Florida was not that place.
There is a huge part of me that really still wants adventure. David and I have lived in North Carolina for over three years now, which is the longest amount of time I have lived anywhere since I finished law school. And there is a large part of me that feels bored and antsy, as much as I really do love North Carolina. The problem is, there is no where in the U.S. that I want to live where I haven’t lived already.
So a couple of months ago, when David’s company announced they needed a new managing director at their London office, I told David that I wanted him to investigate. He did, and as it turns out, David really loves the work that he was doing now and had no real interest in taking over a highly dysfunctional office with issues of its own. I wanted him to want it, because I wanted to drop everything and move to London. I wanted to live somewhere where there are places I could explore and that would serve as a gateway to parts of the world that I want to go to again and again. It isn’t happening, and that is okay. However, that means I have to look somewhere else to find the adventure my souls is craving.
On Wednesday, I was listening to the BBC on my drive into work and they were talking about the big fire at the Nairobi airport which coincidentally fell on the same day as the fifteenth anniversary of the American embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. And it hit me really hard that it has been fifteen years since I was in East Africa and made all of these grand pronouncements in my journal about what adventures I thought I would have in my life. It has been fifteen years and I still haven’t been back. The next day, I heard on the BBC during my drive to work about the two British teenagers who were walking in Stone Town in Zanzibar and had acid thrown on them. And I thought about how when I was in Zanzibar as a teenager, I never felt unsafe walking in the streets of Stone Town, even by myself late in the evening. I thought about how naïve I was, walking those narrow streets at 3:00 in the morning with a group of recently minted Harvard MBA guys who entertained Suzanne and I for an evening. We were loud, obnoxious, rude and all of those awful stereotypes that accompany Americans abroad. In those minutes, I was selfish and never assumed that I was intruding upon someone else’s culture. I waltzed across Stone Town, flirting with British boys enjoying their gap years abroad, and didn’t think twice about how rude and entitled my behavior was in an entirely different culture. Hearing the story about those poor British girls, I felt so terribly for them, because they were as naïve as I was, but at the same time, I couldn’t fathom that happened in Zanzibar, because the people I met there were so kind and welcoming. We were in Zanzibar the day the embassies were bombed in East Africa. We sat in our little house in Kizimkazi Dimbani, on the southern tip of Zanzibar and watched a grainy CNN International and realized we needed to get back to Stone Town to email our parents and let them know we were okay. In the village, everyone was so kind and so apologetic. We headed to Stone Town, and everyone there was so kind and apologetic. They insisted that this had to be the work of other foreigners because no Zanzibari or Tanzanian felt that way about the United States. We emailed our parents and ended up at the Tembo Hotel for dinner, the same place the British girls sought refuge after they had acid thrown at them. We felt safe in Zanzibar. It was only the mainland, we thought. Zanzibar was our refuge.
Last night, when I was talking to David on the phone (since he is out-of-town again this week for work), I told him that these recent events in East Africa only made me want to go back even more. He asked me if I was crazy. The answer to that question is probably yes, but that doesn’t change the fact that I really, really want to get back to East Africa. Maybe next year? There is about a fifty/fifty chance of that, I would guess right now. It all depends on this other different kind of adventure that we are taking a chance on right now. If that doesn’t work out, then there is a 100% likelihood that I will need to console myself by spending a few days on a white-sanded Zanzibari Beach.
That probably makes me sound like the same spoiled, entitled nineteen year old I was back then. Maybe, I haven’t changed that much.