To say that Andrew and I have been chugging full steam ahead for the past several months is fairly accurate. Engaged in October and married March 4th, I finished my nursing coursework and graduated May 3rd, Andrew completed his Americorps year May 4th, and that night we danced, laughed, and ate as our Memphis family, community, and neighbors sent us off with the grandest of block parties. Our big brother, Chris, hitched our Airstream home the morning of May 5th as we officially moved to Nashville. We then got on a plane for Nepal May 9th. Last week I officially secured an NCLEX testing time (national exam for nursing licensure) and applied for some jobs. Some of our friends have suggested that we’ve gone through most of those ‘big changes’ in life in a matter of a few months: fair and accurate.
I have known moments of simplicity and slow, deliberate living, but those mostly existed before the summer of 2010. Last week in Pokhara was a severe slamming on the breaks (Andrew misses his car terribly; therefore, I believe that I am inferring some of his lovesick for the sake of catharsis). Our first month in Nepal was equally filled with 24 hour kids/sauna and 8 hour hiking days/sauna; we determined that we had never sweated so consecutively in our lives. Surely that’s worth one detox diet. We had always planned to stay in the beautiful lakeside town filled with Western hippies a few days post trekking, but to prevent further injury to the ankle and knowing I would need days of ice-filled buckets that did not exist at Harka, we extended our time to 7 days. It was a long week.
My temporary disability kept us from Pokhara staples such as hiking up to the Peace Pagoda or doing our share of yoga hours. However, our successes came as we took a canoe out on an early morning Fewa Lake, purchased fake Ray Bans that do not make my small nose disappear behind its shading factor, indulged in the fancy pool for a full day, and ate our share of curried meals.
I had a few low moments: I told Andrew that I was bored. He correctly told me to take a deep breath and realize that these moments of rest rarely come when you need them. Such a perspective is one of the many reasons I married that fella–perspective and his Game Boy skills. That’s right, Andrew was able to download the original handheld legend on his phone. So with his Mario-themed electronics, the half-done therapy sessions to my ankle, and the 4 Non Blondes blaring out of restaurant speakers, being in Pokhara was essentially just one big time warp to the 1990s.
One thing that I haven’t had the chance to do since the summer of 2010 was read a book of my choosing (minus those Hunger Games trilogy I slipped into a ten day break between semesters). So with the moments of mandatory rest that came exactly when we needed it, I completed Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I read the first fifty pages back when it first came out, but soon thereafter books of anatomy and microbiology began to fill what became a book-lovers void. The author of The Poisonwood Bible chronicles the year that her family deliberately raised, cooked, and consumed foods from their own small farm or those closest to them (they capped it at a 250-mile radius seeing as that’s how far their dairy traveled). With a bit of acreage in the Appalachians of Virgina, they made it as more of a family food experiment. In one year they put forty tomato plants in the ground (ranging from canned, sauced, and dehydrated, those maters served as their go-to meals during the hungry months) and successfully raised and natural bred (a lost art in biology if there is such a thing) a flock of heirloom turkeys. By know means were they purists, as they clearly confess to the need of such things as coffee, spices, and flour that neither they could grow in such climate nor could anyone close to them. The whole idea, however, was to choose which food economies to support. With those few exceptions, they consciously chose fair-trade roots for their caffeine and bread, and with the remaining bulk, their neighboring farmers became community–as did their meat chickens which eventually became a part of them (too much?). Needless to say, I enjoyed the passion and candor she spoke about food in its most basic and beautiful sense.
Besides my low moments of complaining and boredom (I swear they weren’t too frequent), I heeded my husband’s advice and was thankful. I was thankful for the moments of monotony and a chance to finish a book. I enjoyed being in a place where it was perfectly acceptable to wear the exact same thing every day and no one would be the wiser (or care). With my flow-y skirt and tanktop I did my best to stay par with the hippies, but then they would go ahead and walk barefoot everywhere and I could only shake my head in defeat. The young guy who brought me milk coffee every morning daily sported a neon-lettered Ramones shirt, and the owner of our favorite breakfast nook kept on boasting a tee with the words “The Man, The Myth, The Hoff” followed by a picture of David Hasselhoff (I can’t make this stuff up).
Several days ago we left the world of nineties rock and Baywatch legends for Harka. Yes, it’s hot, but dang these kids are worth the detox diets. We are full steam ahead now with the wedding plans. This will be the fourth day in a row I have gone with Laxmi to Narayanghat’s market (two years ago I believe I went a total of two times in four weeks). Of course the ‘simple’ Nepali event I had in my mind was thrown out the window since Laxmi has taken the reigns. Her one biological daughter is 23 and not married, so as she says, I am her first daughter to have such a celebration–going all out! Our first night back the older four kids came with us to pick out our clothes. I am now the owner of a sauri and the surrounding fabric. Day two we went to a tailor and got those same four kiddos some sweet new outfits. Sirjana and Soniya went traditional with some beautiful langa onis while Bishal and Sima chose a new Western look. Surprise, surprise. In a few hours I am going to the ‘beauty man’ as Laxmi explains to have my hands decorated with henna (!). Our wedding will be tomorrow evening. I will most likely appoint Sima to be the photographer/videographer so we’ll have some necessary footage to share. How blessed we are to celebrate our marriage with these kids and this place.