Thursday, June 07, 2007


Reunions! Before I launch into my narrative, I will answer what may be the first questions you would ask – was it hard to be there, and was it hard to come back – no, and no. I had a little bit of culture shock at the Casablanca airport, but New York and New Jersey did not seem the least bit foreign, and I have had harder times getting back to Chicago at times than I did getting back to Morocco.

The ride to the airport and the flight were uneventful – my theory is that if I plan to sleep I can’t, and if I have something I really want to read or do I sleep; I couldn’t sleep, but I did read. Recorded my impressions on Thursday afternoon:
Humidity. Air conditioning. Landing at JFK – same JFK who founded the Peace Corps. First billboard I see – Lewis and Clark. Then one for the America’s Cup – I would watch that if I were at home. Wish I hadn’t lost my cell phone – where’s a phone booth to call Tony? Customs form asked if I had handled or touched farm animals – I have been in close proximity but have done neither. On the customs line, a woman in a head scarf next to a Hasidic Jew – welcome to New York. Sports talk radio – in a New York accent. Passing the SAS building – the exit that leads to my childhood home. Passing Shea and LaGuardia. Billy Joel on CD. Does everyone in New York have an ipod or a cell phone? Why am I the only person walking around in a rush? We passed a building with Arabic lettering – will I be able to read that next time? Traffic. What food do I miss and most want to eat? Nothing comes to mind immediately – it did more when I came in from Chicago than it does now. Hmmm….wait…Starbucks looks good. A cold shower at my sister’s – I had a nice, hot one in Morocco; where’s the love? An old man talking to me in a store – not exactly harassment, but not my own little world either. A $20 bill. Nobody here is wearing a sheet around herself or bedroom slippers. Resisting the urge to use Arabic to say please and thank you. A wide sidewalk with no cafes. Everyone looks familiar (look – Americans!) but I don’t recognize them. Times Square not as busy as the Jemaa el-Fna. Have to get on the train so I can get to New Jersey by dark – wait, no I don’t! I wasn’t bombarded with these thoughts – they just passed through my head. I’ve never been one to take my surroundings for granted; I always look around and appreciate, and I was able to do so here too.

My father would always ask me what room I was assigned and I am happy to report that it was 116 Dodge-Osborn, my freshman-year dorm, and that I went into my freshman-year room for maybe the first time since freshman year. I then went on to the 30th Reunion courtyard (even though we were a satellite class of ‘82’s 25th Reunion, I’ve always been something of a Class of ’77 groupie). One of the first people I saw was someone I was specifically looking for, Vincent. We had had a discussion four years ago at Reunions, in which I had told him that I would love to take time off and travel and see the world, maybe even live in another culture for a while, but that I couldn’t do it. He looked at me and said, “but can’t you?” I didn’t have his current address, so he didn’t know where I was, and I had to find him and tell him and thank him for asking that question. Stayed up later than I thought I would considering how tired I was, talking to Vincent and other friends, but I also expected to be sleep-deprived, and staying in a hot dorm room facing the courtyard with its blaring music at night and loud breakfast setup in the morning was part of the experience.

I then floated from one engagement from the next, including time for spontaneity. Coffee with Lisa led into a walk on Nassau Street with Kyra and then the Maclean Society lunch with Arlene and then hanging around the tent with Mike and family (missed doing a jigsaw puzzle with them) and then a lecture by the editor of The Nation (every so often I do want to take advantage of the rich offering of programming that Reunions offers!) and then the Princeton Alumni Weekly reception (I am going to take over writing the class notes columns for next year, and I am happy to be able to do that) and then an hour to myself, during which I bought the running shoes that were the one thing I really wanted to get while I was home – everything else on my list could be sent to me, but those I had to be fitted for. An unplanned-in-advance dinner with Carol and Mike – sure, I just saw them in Fes, but we still had a lot to talk about! The humidity gave way to torrential thunderstorms, but undaunted, I returned to the tent, saw that La had signed in, called her and dragged her around with me in a mission to find someone. The evening ended with a WaWa run for Tastykakes – mmmm, Tastykakes!
Saturday was coffee with La and then a walk with Kyra in the Institute Woods – a first for her, and I hadn’t done it all that often myself – the moral equivalent of the walks we’ve been taking on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan for the past few summers. A class lunch and meeting – we have a good group of regulars now, and it’s fun to spend time with them; I’ve never done all that much with the class, feeling that most of my friends are in other classes, but I now seek out classmates. The P-rade – mission from the night before accomplished, and for perhaps that or perhaps other reasons it seemed to go by more quickly than usual. My sister and nieces had planned to come, but given the heat and humidity, I am glad I talked them out of it. After the P-rade, an ice cream with Howie (all right, so maybe there were foods I needed after all) and then instead of the usual running around I just went to Quad and stayed there – instead of my coming and going to various places I talked to the various people who came and went to Quad. On to the concert and fireworks, with what ended up being a big group of people. I spent most of the concert time talking with Rick, the person it had been my mission to find the night before – lots to talk about. The fireworks were great; Princeton has some of the best fireworks I have ever seen, and I appreciated them all the more not having the weekly Navy Pier fireworks from my roof. Rick and I then went to his truck to listen to the Pistons game (I had watched a Pistons game with him at Reunions in ’89 or ’90 – a long time ago) and talked some more – considering how much time is spent with so many people at Reunions, I had a lot of one-on-one talks this year. This one covered 28 years….

My friend Steve once referred to Reunions as “Roon’s ego-gratification weekend.” I feel loved and treasured there in a way I feel possibly nowhere else, and this year was no exception. It was fun to wear my orange-and-black Moroccan clothes, and I felt that my darker hair gave me superpowers. I also felt unburdened – for so many years now I would go back to New York and/or Princeton and wonder what I was doing – should I move back to New York? Should I try to get a job at Princeton? When would I finally have some news to report about my next move, and what would it be? Last year I was not quite ready to discuss my decision to come here, but I realized that I had to tell people. This year I feel happy with where I am for the first time in a long, long time, and I was able to enjoy the experience without plaguing myself with questions about what I was doing with my life. This time next year I might be back in the same boat, wondering what I am going to do next, or maybe I will still feel happy and unburdened, or maybe I will even know where I am going next.

And I do want to reiterate that I am happy! Yes, I’ve had some bouts of feeling blue, and I’ve chosen to write about them here rather than paint a rosy picture all the time, but know that I am happy and not to be worried about. I did get a big lift from seeing old friends, though, and I may consider spending the money to call people more often or even visiting again between now and next Reunions, but I am happy. I received some other interesting comments on the blog:
- When you don’t write for a few days I worry about you.
- When you write so often I worry about you.
- When you write about daily life as opposed to your travels it’s interesting.
- When you write about your travels it makes me want to go there.
So I’m just going to keep writing everything that I want to share!

Sunday it was on to Shea Stadium – so it is NOT 27 months without baseball after all! But when you amortize 7 ½ innings over that amount of time (maybe I will add another nine or so next year) it’s almost going without. I have taken my nieces to a game for a few years now, and Gary has joined us ever since we completely randomly sat right next to him at a game a few years ago; this year my sister and brother-in-law joined too. The knish was disappointing (another food I suppose I had been looking forward to) and the Mets lost and it started to rain, but it was good to be in the ballpark. One of the highlights was an at-bat by Julio Franco, the only major leaguer older than I am. But there was also pitching and hitting and cheering and the scoreboard and the music and a person a few rows ahead of us who had a Reunions wristband on and Mr. Met and a couple of HBPs and a few innings there where there wasn’t a hit yet and I thought maybe, maybe….

And then the Annual Card Game! Once again, I appreciate the flexibility on the part of the other players to accommodate my schedule (and have already mentioned Reunions Sunday next year as the next playing opportunity). The universe showed that some things are just meant to be when Bill and I once again trounced Gary and Marty, and we feasted on Chinese food and Junior’s Cheesecake (a couple of salads on Friday were quite welcome, and when all was said and done I wouldn’t have minded some sushi, but I fared well on my trip, considering I arrived with no particular food agenda).

Monday was a New York day with family and friends. First, a much-needed massage. Then meeting up with two Wharton friends (and key members of the support team) – Debbie (who came in from New Jersey) and Elisa (who came in from Virginia). We had coffee (so in five days I went to Starbucks more often than I would in an average month if not season) and then lunch. I had in mind that we would go to a drug store and a grocery store and a computer store and that I would fill the suitcase I had brought with me, but we did none of the above – good thing I had brought the running shoes on Friday, so I took care of the one thing I really needed! I then went to my sister’s osteopath. I don’t know what a typical osteopath does, but this one is kind of new-age, and she told me my future was completely blocked and that all of my problems were in my head and that I wasn’t zen enough and a few other things, and she gave me Bach flower remedies and will continue to treat me from afar based on my energy. It all makes sense to me….

Elisa and I then walked across the park (Debbie having left after lunch) and watched my niece in a drama-class performance. Then we walked home (I guess I chose walking and talking over filling the suitcase), had some tomato-cheddar soup (my second of the weekend and another welcome food!) and somehow it was time to go to the airport. I made some phone calls from there, including the invention of an ingenious new game – charades by phone. You talk, and the other person has to guess what you are gesturing. Great idea, eh? All right, so I was sleep-deprived…and I capped that off by not sleeping a wink on my overnight flight to Casablanca.

I did have a great idea – getting rid of stuff. On the way over I wished I had had an extra week so I could go to the storage space and get rid of things while I no longer feel so attached to them. That evolved into hiring someone and having friends in Chicago supervise while this is done for me in my absence. It is still an evolving idea, but it would be great to continue to unburden myself while I am gone!

Seeing old friends also made me feel less stressed about IST. I’ve been too sensitive lately and now I feel like my old cheery self, a free agent who can spend time with the cliques as I please. I want to be passionate about what I do here but not have it be as all-consuming as it may have been – my life may be here for now, but it is not my whole life. Being a little more detached while still remaining involved will give me a better perspective, I think. I am also glad that I did as much work on my presentation and general preparation as I did before I left, because it is taking some time to get back in the swing. I unpacked, did laundry, washed the floors, checked in at the artisana, went to the post office, took naps, saw Amanda and Youssef…and now I have tutoring, reviewing the presentation, reading up on Agadir, and packing…. We don’t have an agenda for In-Service Training so I don’t really know what to expect, but whereas last week I felt overwhelmed, this week I feel ready to go with the flow, enjoy seeing everyone for one of the few remaining times we will be together during our service, and make the most of being in Agadir, a resort city on the Atlantic! I don’t think I will bring my computer with me so I may not write again until it is over – I think I will be back on the 20th.

La! You saw La! Lucky... And Vince, too.

Still sad you didn't come back a few days early just to see me ;-)
Yes, good to see them and more. As for my trip, I used all of my accrued vacation days and am not eligible to advance any, but I didn't want more than a quick trip anyway. Barring the unforeseen, I will be doing the same trip next year.
Just teasing ;-)

You lucked out - we didn't get any humidity. Just warm, beautiful days.
Tastykake is all the good things.....all the good things wrapped up in one....

Sorry I couldn't resist!

Welcome back!!!
surprising joy at seeing you == guess I was more worried than I thought. You looked FAB, as always, in O&B -- and were, as always, the most interesting person there.

same time, next year!
Hi Leesy!
Debbie, I think of it as a world of fun, all the good things wrapped up in one. We might have to get a ruling on this. Paul, are you out there?

Jeff, I would have thought the humidity was getting to me just because it's so dry in Morocco, but it seemed to be getting to others too. I rarely found Chicago to be that humid, though others did, but I do hear that about D.C., one of my candidates for future living, and that has to go in the "con" column....sorry, Elisa....

Leesy - I'm touched...thanks. However, I can never be the most interesting person there if it's a year when you attend. I'm glad for anyone's and everyone's concern but don't want anyone to worry! Glad to alleviate some. Reunions weekend has nourished me many times before and this year was no exception. Looking forward to next year already and to keeping in touch in between!
I thought it was a world of fun too - but then I googled it and it gave me the other words --- I am definitely going back to a world of fun, all the good things wrapped up in one!!!
(Google be darned!)

Have a world of fun!!!
I like that - have a world of fun! I also like Tastykakes. I have a new love though - the double chocolate Magnum bar. I hope to write up my trip, as well as a quarterly report, before I leave for the next trip, a week in Rabat starting Monday. The double chocolate Magnum bar will probably be prominently featured!
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