I lost my Whitman water bottle.
You know the blue water bottle covered with whitman/pnw stickers that literally every whitman student has?
Yeah, I lost that one.
I am now using a water bottle from one of new universities. Luckily, it is also blue with white lettering, it is also a water bottle, and also has a screw on cap. An observer might not notice the difference. Or if they do notice the difference, they’ll be impressed by how well I’ve adapted to the new water bottle. But I know the truth of it. I know just how different this water bottle is from my old one. It lacks all the personal touches that I had grown accustomed to. The stickers, worn smooth by my habits and patterns, are gone. It’s shiny and pretty and quite functional but it feels awkward, different, and just somehow… off.
Sometimes I forget that I left my old one behind me somewhere until I reach for something familiar and find that things don’t work quite the same as they used too, and that the water leaves a slightly different taste in my mouth. It’s taller than my old one, and thinner too, and sometimes even when I think I’ve learned how tightly I need to grab it, it slips though my fingers. But most importantly, the cap on my new water bottle doesn’t screw on as tightly as my old one. And so, every once in a while, one small error, one thoughtless moment, or one incorrect assumption lets loose a flood of embarrassment, self-doubt, and wet notebooks.
When I left Seattle the blood-red sun glared down at me* and the sky was heavy with smoke from the fires. It wasn’t exactly the auspicious beginning that I had envisioned the million and a half times I had pictured that moment. After a less-than-stoic goodbye I got on the plane and spent the next four hours with “Point of No Return” stuck in my head. Yep, of all the songs in the world, it was that one.
After two flights that were simultaneously too long and too short, I landed in Mérida where customs stole all my fruit. I mean it makes sense that that happened and I get that they’re doing their job and protecting Mexico from my scary US grapes. But still! Anyway, after an exhausting day of sitting and stressing I finally met my lovely host mom Suraya. We ate Japanese food and I spent 10 minutes trying (and failing) to describe “lightning” using my jumbled Spanish and fairly nonsensical hand gestures.
I’ve now been here for a few days and I kind of don’t know what to say. It has been such an amazing, scary, and exhausting experience.There are so many differences big and small between Seattle and Mérida but for now I want to talk about an overarching theme that I’ve noticed in the short time I’ve been here:
I appreciate everything so much more here.
Seriously, I know it sounds a little ridiculous but give me a second to explain. There are so many things that I take for granted when I’m home, but when I’m here I have rediscovered how truly fantastic things are. Like showers! Seriously, showers! Can we please talk about this? After spending a day covered in sunscreen, bug spray, and sweat (so much sweat) a shower is just the most divine experience ever. Potable water is also really high up there on the list of things that I now cherish above everything else. Finally, and most importantly: the ability to communicate. This is my first time living outside the United States and it is hard, really hard. I knew it was going to be a challenge but I don’t think anything could have prepared me for how much mental energy it takes to exist in Spanish. The upside? There is no better feeling than having a real conversation with someone in another language and being able to say “woah I understood like 87% of what just happened!”
Anyway, I’m going to sign off now because I have homework to do. Take a hot shower and drink some tap water for me!
Anne Elise <3
*Doesn’t this sound like the beginning of a dystopian fiction novel? Watch out Suzanne Collins, my blog might be the next big thing in teen lit.