Thirteen months ago, this very day, I typed these words: I am sitting at my gate of the Dubai International Airport. The same thing is true today. Right now.
I can hardly pass through Dubai without sufficing the need to write a blog post. I have tried to while away my time here with things other than blogging, but I just can’t seem to fight the urge. Or I’m too tired to keep fighting. The problem I face this time around is that I’m not really sure what to write. In the past three passages through Dubai, I have had something on my mind or heart to speak about. This time through, the thoughts on my mind are jumbled and disjointed.
I am on my way to Southern India for a third trip to the Christian Medical College. This time around my trip has a three-fold purpose: to volunteer at the Rehab Institute as I have in the past, to partake in the celebration of a dear friend’s wedding, and to do some exploration/research for a personal project. It feels good to be going back with a purpose, even if it means my dance card is going to be very full over the next two weeks.
A week before I left Spokane, many people asked me if I was ready and if I was packed already. Ha! Clearly those who asked if I had packed don’t know me that well… (I pack in the eleventh hour). As for being ready to go back… I left India a year ago ready to return. So yes! Definitely, YES! But packing for this trip was unusually difficult for me. I had laid out all the items I felt necessary for my trip and some luxury items that I felt would be fun to take if I had extra room. When I finally got around to stuffing all my things into my backpack, I was surprised and almost alarmed when I realized that my bag was half empty. I looked around for anything I might have missed, and then mentally ran through my itemized list. “Passport. Check. Visa. Check. Cash. Check. Toothbrush. Check. Sense of humor. Always. Ok then, Em, you’re set… everything else is just luxury.” Maybe my past experiences in India have armed me with the knowledge and confidence which allows me to pack light. Or maybe I am going to have a sudden realization that I was too confident in my light packing and things will go awry. (If that’s the case, I’m sure you will hear of it.) At any rate, I humored myself and packed a hooded sweatshirt at the last minute for two reasons: 1) I felt the need to fill space in my backpack, 2) I still can’t imagine not being cold despite the fact that it is supposed to be 102 F when I land at my final destination.
I can tell you know that there are a few things I would have packed in my carry on and will remember for next time. When I arrived in Dubai, I decided to track down a hot shower and place to freshen up. With nine or so hours to kill, I figured it would be a fair use of time. After partaking in the delight of a hot shower, I quickly realized that I had no towel. Good thing I had nine hours to kill: drip-drying takes a while in a humid environment. Mental note: pack some sort of towel in the carry on. Also a change of clothes would have been nice. Ah well, live and learn!
Most notably missing from the items I packed is this: my people. I love traveling. And I do quiet enjoy my solo adventures. The “I do it byself” attitude I was presumably born with seems to almost relish these unaccompanied adventures of mine. But the truth is, after only a few hours into my trip I have realized more poignantly than ever that I want to share these experiences with my people. My family. My friends. My people. I want my people on one side of the world to meet my people on the other side of the world. I want my people to smell the foods I have fallen in love with. I want my people to see the chaos of life that has become dear to me. I want my people to taste the flavors of the world that I keep traipsing back to. Perhaps it is the familiarity of the trip that has caused these feelings. I’m now more relaxed and calm about the trip with less crazed concern about being where I need to be and when I need to be there. I’m not so concerned about the little things, because I know, for the most part, what to expect. My mind is not preoccupied with the unfamiliarity of it all because it is now rather familiar to me. My mind has freedom to wander, and it inevitably wanders back to its first love: my people.
I recognize how incredibly blessed I am to be taking this trip-- for the third time. I trust I will never take for granted the opportunity that has been afforded me. I pray that next time (because, Lord willing, I hope there will be a next time) I blog from my gate at the Dubai airport, someone counted among “my people” will be with me.