On January 13, 2008, my mom drove me to a train station at 6 in the morning in Macomb, Ill: population 20,000. It was still dark outside, and it was chilly, but warm enough to wear a faux leather jacket with an orange hooded sweatshirt underneath, grey cotton gloves and a wool blue train-conductor style cap.
It was the first stop on a route that would take me first to Chicago, where I would catch a plane to Brussels, Belgium. In Belgium I would catch a plane to Casablanca. In Casablanca, I would catch a plan to Dakar, Senegal. In Senegal… well, I honestly didn’t know what was waiting for me in Senegal. All I knew is I would be there from Jan. 16 to March 16.
I was wrong. I fell in love with Senegal. I’ve spent the last year writing and posting on this blog describing how that happened and why I became enamored with a country that is almost always uncomfortable, so I won’t go into that.
I remember before I left for Senegal, I was having a discussion with Heidi. Was I making the right decision by giving up a job, a boyfriend and a comfortable life to go to West Africa? I wasn’t sure really. She asked me what my gut felt. I didn’t know how to differentiate my gut from my heart from my head. I called my friends Matt and Kenz to ask if they thought I should just skip Africa and move to Chicago. They both thought I should of course go to Africa—the answer I knew they would give.
“Ricci—look at who you called. You called the two people you knew would say ‘Go to Africa.” Matt had said. He was right. In the end, I’m still not quite sure if I’ve figured out when it’s my gut talking to me and when it’s just indigestion.
But I do have more faith in myself and where I’m going and what I’m doing—chasing those crazy dreams of mine and such. Plus, the tickets were non-refundable.
UPDATE: After I posted this, I felt the need to add: This has also been one of the hardest years of my life—by far. I often didn’t know where my next paycheck was coming from (still don’t!). I was utterly alone when I arrived in Senegal. I could barely communicate to most of the people around me my first two months of the year. I often felt I was letting down friends and family by being so far away.
But today, while I was doing some freelance work I heard a woman give a speech, and she said this:
“In this life, if you want to have something you’ve never had before, you have to be willing to stand up and do some things that you’ve never done before.” If I had to pick a phrase to best sum up my year, that would probably be it. That and “Alhamdulliah.”
random snippets for the day…
Here’s a shot of D.C. at night..I like the capital building in the middle…
I’ve found some good music lately.. this one I like for the beginning chimey things, and the first sentence of the first verse (listen and you’ll know why)
and in completely unrelated ramblings, I need a finance software program for small businesses… suggestions welcome.
This is a bush — a frozen bush — at the corner in my Macomb neighborhood where I used to catch the bus every morning to school. The big yellow bus.
I was back home in Mac Town for Christmas last week. It was awesome to see my moms and sis. They’re basically the best people — ever. I woke my sister up with a rousing rendition of “We Wish you a Merry Christmas” early in the morning and jumped on her. She, of course, was very pleased.
Ps: The last post was “The Bean” reflection in Millinieum Park
We went ice skating in downtown Chicago this Saturday. It was snowing lightly and despite the cold, it was SO pretty.
And as an added bonus, my friend from forever, the lovely Miss Susie Brenner came…
I’m in Washington D.C. on a very important mission at the moment. Heidi K. emailed me yesterday and demanded I post photos. Since she just got engaged, I better giver her what she wants (you know how sensitive brides-to-be are..)
More wedding photos today …
at the wedding, the groom (Nate) and his friends sang to the bride (Meghan) a la Top Gun. Now, I’m always one who enjoys a good group sing-along, but I guess I’d never photographed one before. Pretty good fodder for my Nikon, if you ask me. Take one part You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling” and add two parts semi-inebriated wedding goers, and there’s a lot of action to capture.
I’ve been taking one..well, kind of. Since last Thursday, I’ve been through Dakar, Chicago, St. Louis, Macomb and now back to Chicago. Along the way I’ve been writing and editing for various projects. Alas, I have NOT been blogging. Obviously.
While in St. Louis I shot a wedding … here’s a quick photo from that.
Oh! and it snowed in Chicago last night! It’s pretty, and you’ll get some photos of that soon…