I’m packing my belongings in a room in Chicago that smells of overpowering cat urine. Staring at treetops over plant starts growing on the windowsill and wondering how my life will be different one month from now. I’ll have been in Morocco for quite sometime and all of this may seem so small. That’s what happens when I travel. My life in The States becomes much smaller.
My passport is in front of me and I just flipped through the pages with all the stamps from visas. There’s Republic of India, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Tanzania, Kenya, Jamaica, Republica Ferderativa Do Brasil, and Vietnam. Some stamps, some stickers, most old, a few relatively recent. I have traveled. Though I was labeled student when the majority of those visas were I assigned I still feel as such though currently traveling as teacher.
A friend of mine just returned from burying his mother in the traditional Islamic way — they handed him his mother’s coffinless body wrapped in a cloth and he helped lay her six feet below the surface in an Arizona desert facing east. It broke him in many important ways and in some unimportant ones too. But during our conversation at midnight as he smoked and drank beer I could tell her death repaired him as well. I cried last night thinking of my grandmother how, like he, I missed her death because I was too far away. And, like he, felt the pull to relocate to be closer to the remaining loved one.
Life happens like this; in bits and pieces never all at once. We are changed by our momentary involvements but life is never changed by us. Too old for influence it bowls us over or passes us by, but doesn’t stop to check for a pulse. I was changed by my travels. I was changed by the death of my grandmothers. I am changed by everything that happens to me. There is something peaceful in that realization. I am changed by everything. I wonder, how will I be different tomorrow.