Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pulling a Forrest Gump (, running.)

I have a somewhat unfortunate habit of buying a ticket when I "crack," or feel myself in danger of it. Bus, plane, train, ferry. All are among a long list of viable options. Bicycles are cheaper but temporary, as they don't get you as far as quickly.

It's funny, really - geographical relocation can certainly help to some extent, and of course there's one of my favorite quotes, Paul Theroux's "travel is flight and pursuit in equal parts"... but there's only so much one can "flee" from. There's even less one ought to flee from. And so, while staring semi-vacantly out the window of the bus, plane, or train, or resting against the rail of the ferry deck (as the case may be), I very often find myself thinking about exactly that which I'd hoped not to think about. I know this, yet still I buy the ticket. Maybe the part of me that is buying the ticket is also attempting to deny the fact that many things - thoughts especially - can be inescapable. 

Or maybe there really is something to it, even just a bit. A distraction, perhaps. A determination to not get mired down in something I'd considered myself in danger of getting mired down in. A revitalization of that continuous undercurrent, yearning for new places, new people, new thoughts, new challenges. A fresh look at the "old" places, people, thoughts, and challenges. The last of that list especially (it's broader, I suppose). Even given a tight budget (generally the case), I am more likely to thrive on basmati rice and chicken tikka masala - both of which I now have plenty of experience whipping up - in order to save money for travel/escape than I am to do otherwise.

Thankfully, I've got a large canvas sack of rice, complete with sturdy handles to make it travel-friendly.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A game of "Taboo"

This holiday season, Taboo became the pastime of choice for my large, loud, and competitive family, rounds of the game becoming increasingly raucous as wine bottles were drained and excitement heightened. 

Count off into two teams. As one player draws each card, he or she must give team members clues to guess the term on the card without saying the buzz words, ideally getting through as many as possible before the timer runs out. Always a lively experience, and all the better when you have inside information - "Grandpa always wears these, um, they're rainbow..." "suspenders!" Of course, this can also be risky, depending on circumstances, eg "Matt makes us..." "late!" "crazy!" "annoyed!" etc, until Matt himself answers correctly with "laugh!"

At one point during our lively New Year's Eve game, one of my step-sisters gave the clue "A lot of Kate's friends are this..." Immediately, my brother and step-brother rattled off possibilities. "African!" "Indian!" "Black!" "European!" "Non-American!" "Hispanic!" "Middle Eastern!" "Muslim!" The last of which receiving a nod of encouragement from the clue giver, they finally alighted upon the correct answer, Arab. 

Of course I have plenty of American friends as well (of varied ethnicities and religious beliefs), but I'm entertained by what seemed the obvious defining feature to my family - not character traits, but nationality. Diversity, really, and of the sort that isn't often seen in our small, agricultural hometown. 

I couldn't help but smile. Indeed, my friends have somehow tended to come from many corners of the world, and I have had the honor and pleasure of getting to know them and their stories in the process. I'll gladly agree to all of their guesses - just as, when a Ghanaian man once asked me mid-hike if I could love a black man, my natural response was to give him a slightly confused (/distraught) look and reply with what seemed the obvious answer of "sure, why not."

And with that, happy New Year! May it be a colorful one of learning and listening, adventures and misadventures, friends and loved ones - new and "old" alike.