An Excerpt from 33 Days
by: Amber Curry Gracia
February 2, 2012
Three years ago, I sat alone in a typical coffee shop on an almost sparkling winter’s day. As the sun poured through the smeared glass, there I sat – lost, miserable and desperate for change. I had made up an imaginary commitment so that I might huddle myself away. A day with a pen, spiral notebook and an endless carafe of some locally-roasted variety. I started to write with no idea where it would lead. Since words weren’t really my thing, I started with what I knew – mapping. Soon, the first pages became the mapping of my discontent. Random musings about when I felt happy and when not so much. All organized into neatly drawn charts and graphs, in keeping with my analytical madness.
I didn’t know how else to sort things out.
Equipped with the most infantile self-evaluation techniques, I thought the best way to move forward might just be to work my way backwards from the end. That is of course, the end of my life. I thought perhaps then I could work my way back to this sunny coffee shop in my rubber band town and chart a more fulfilling path forward.
Maybe they are going to need to refill this carafe…
I began to write out a list of things that I hoped would form the story of this life. I then boiled it all down to one simple line. One single accomplishment. To leave my children with one inherent belief.
They can do anything, everything and anywhere. Always.
On that same page, I jotted a small but important note to myself, “place my feet on African soil.”
When I wrote those words, I would have never believed that, a mere three years later, I would find myself making preparations to climb the slopes of Kilimanjaro. Even that word, “Kilimanjaro,” seems like something reserved for the pages of someone else’s story, not mine.
This journal will chronicle how this story pans out. I sit here eleven days away from placing these narrow feet upon the soils of Africa and 33 days away from writing the next chapter of my story. Why 33 days? Well, because I have a maniacal need to do and list things in triplicate. So, here’s how it’s going to go…
Part One – The Lead Up
The eleven days before departure. A time to think about Africa and this challenge in abstraction. A destination filled with anticipation and much expectation.
Part Two – The Experience
The eleven days from take off to landing. A time during which I will stand atop of the roof of Africa. The memories in the making, the misery and shared adventure. The time when I will see first hand what this girl is made of.
Part Three – The Aftermath
The eleven days after return. A time of reflection and reconciliation of the impact made. Perhaps a touch of elegant transformation, perhaps heaps of regret.
That is 33 days divided into three neatly packaged parts. Not two, not four, but three equal parts.
Neatly so, because I like things that way.
This recently caught my eye.
This shot was captured in the abandoned train station in Moshi, Tanzania. A weathered wooden box which once collected anonymous input, now swings uselessly from a rusty anchor. A small, thought-provoking relic of a bygone colonial era. When I saw it, I imagined the human faces of foreign powers who descended one-by-one in a “please take a number” fashion upon this corner of the world. Read the rest of this entry »