Turning my head to look back; or, Leaving on a jet plane!

by Anna Blanch on August 21, 2009

You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place […], like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll beven be this way ever again. (236)

Azar Nafisi’s words in “Reading Lolita in Tehran” echoed loudly in my ears as i read them recently. “Reading Lolita in Tehrain” is a great book by the way and one i would heartily recommend. It is inspiring in its passion for teaching literature and sobering in its political reality and modest in its depiction of oppression erring on the side of austerity rather than drama. So much about the novel is endearing.

After 2 years and 8 days I am leaving Texas.

It’s been a crazy ride. I am happy and content that my Texan experience is part of my story, and oh what an experience it has been. For me the old adage is true, the people make the place. Central Texas is unlike anywhere in the world and Wacko Waco is right in the middle. I say Wacko Waco because the locals do; it’s just that kind of place.

What i’ll miss….

  • The people – my friends and adopted family here!
  • The ILL staff at the Library – will not be the same without them…nothing will ever be the same*
  • Good Mexican Food! (and associated mexican beverages…)
  • The squirrels! They run across your path all over campus. I’ll miss these little critters that have become part of my daily landscape.
  • Lemonade. I don’t like Ice Tea; so this little chicken was thrilled to rediscover that other gem of the south, Lemonade.
  • The spectacle of American university culture. I have some incredibly “all american” photos and i’ll miss that just a little.

* More a feature of the limited service offered to postgraduates at my new institution.

What i won’t miss

  • The lack of hills
  • The lack of Indian food and Asian ingredients.*
  • Texas summers (never will i miss 100 degree days for 10 weeks straight…)
  • Texas allergies (insane…utterly insane)
  • being asked if i am South African/New Zealand**/Irish/English/Swiss/Inuit***

** Before you say anything, I have no intrinsic issue with people confusing my accent with a kiwi one, more the general principle
***This really happened. My response: “do i look inuit?”

*This is more a feature of where i was living!

All of these are merely superficial however, I have much to reflect upon. I’ve grown as a scholar, a woman, a friend. I’ve experienced living on the other side of the world from my family for over 2 years and i’ve survived with the help of an adopted family and the wonderful invention that is Skype. I’ve almost got this international communication thing hacked…now if only i could remember their birthdays and anniversaries so i didn’t feel like such a slack sister and daughter.

It has been a learning experience all around. I am so grateful to have the support of family to make my wildest dreams and boldest ideas come to fruition. The lassiez faire attitude I have to international travel is born out of the calm way my mother approaches life and the matter of factness that come with an experience no longer being novel. So, in the next month I will cross the pacific twice, once from the US to Australia and then from Oz to the UK where I will begin the next phase of my life. But there will be time to look forward. For now I want to reflect and be grateful.

A couple of weeks ago I had to compile a list of my international travels. The list is long and i probably should have had a document with all the relevant dates and places before now. If you ever plan to work for a government or apply for long-term visas I highly recommend that you keep this list, that is, a list of international travel (place, duration, and purpose, including any visa number) and a list of all of your addresses. Needless to say, on this and many other things, I need to start taking my own advice!

I am looking back at least until I get about half-way over the Pacific and then I’ll feel like it is time to look forward. To rejoice in seeing my family again and meeting my 10 week old neice. Oh, how I have longed to see her smiling face in person and to hold her close. Which brings me to something else, have I told you how much Skype has made the last two years bearable! Long conversations with my mum and my sisters never have to be timed. We can see each other and laugh and wave. Without it I would have been more homesick more often. Wonderful piece of software that!


Anna Blanch is the founder of Goannatree, She is also writing a PhD dissertation in Theology and Literature at the University of St Andrews, Scotland.

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