FOD Asked Foreign Correspondent, Kaitlyn Blansett, For a Humorous Article About Her Time Abroad and Instead She Gave Us a Page From Her Diary; We Published It Anyway
With tear-stained eyes full of bittersweet excitement and lament for friends left behind, I shift nervously in my seat. The Delta 747 carries me down, gently landing on the ground of my birth, the tarmac of my home state: Indiana. As I unhook my seatbelt my heart begins to pound.
What fun it will be to share all of the beautiful experiences I’ve had this semester. How exciting it will be to introduce my new foreign friends to my old American friends. How comforting it will be to be reminded of how much my friends and family love me through their hugs, tears and endless questions about the life I had built in Peru.
I hurry off the plane, out of the terminal and frantically search for the familiar faces of all the friends and family who had surely come to greet me and comfort me doing this difficult transition from fan exotic expatriate to small town girl. My eyes skimmed endless crowds of families with smiles, taxi drivers with signs, none smiling for my arrival nor bearing my name.
My excitement quickly turns to disappointment as I realize my mother is late. After a short 20 minute wait my excitement rekindles as I walk outside to see my mom. I approach her animatedly for the hug of the century to break the 6 month no-hugging streak my absence had created. She, on the other hand, apathetically stands in place next to the trunk of our vehicle and sticks her hands out to take my bags.
“Let’s get going. I have to get home soon or I’ll miss my show.”
We begin the hour and a half ride home as she explains everything that has happened in her life, my brothers’ lives, the neighbors’ lives, the lives of the characters on her show, the old neighbors’ lives. Disappointment seeps into my heart as I realized: she doesn’t care.
Panicked and seeking release of all the bottled-up emotions and memories demanding to be shared I call my father.
“Oh you’re back today? I must have forgotten. I’ll be out of town at my girlfriend’s house this weekend.”
Does no one remember me? Does no one care?
Devastation turns to utter despair as my brother continues reading his truck magazines. He quickly glances up.
“Oh hey Cathy! I didn’t know you were back.”
My name is Kaitlyn.
This is my new low. I look up from the well of disappointment into which I had fallen. It was cold and I had forgotten my jacket. Sadness conquers my heart as once Pizzaro conquered the land of my rebirth, my Peru.
Where had I gone wrong? Had I not gone on an amazing journey of self-discovery? Had I not taken the leap of moving to an unknown country, hardly speaking the tongue, knowing nothing of culture, and then thrived? Had I not been my own Christopher Columbus minus his exploitation and destruction of the native population, and mistaking the country I was in for another country, and just being an overall dirty slime-ball?
Where is my pomp? Where is my circumstance? Where are the anthems and hymns boasting of my travels and tales from each and every mountain top?
Where’s my fucking welcome home cake?
My anger dulls with time as I realize I cannot blame these poor people. After all, are we not each individually our own protagonists in our own lives? Hopeless and numb, I continue with adjusting to my new life, my new normal.
That is until the day I won the people back. The day the people remembered that I, now meek and powerless, was once their queen, bold and strong.
Sitting in class, with a soul weary and eyes towards the ground, my ears perk up as I hear of the first assignment of the semester: introduce your neighbor. My heart awakes from its slumber, beating as fast as it does the first time one witnesses the wonder of Machu Picchu or hits up the disco with one’s compañeros.
The professor requires us to share the given name of our partners and an interesting fact about them.
Finally! A chance to share! A chance to explain myself!
I quiver with excitement and anticipation as I wait for my name to be called, for my partner to share to good tidings of return, the many histories of travels, love, and gastronomy. My name is announced and my esteemed colleague, social work major Britney S. from Valparaiso, falters. I see her confidence is lacking and her very own words are failing her. Not wanting to miss this once-offered opportunity I take action.
I rise out of my seat with a burst of energy that seemed to come from some sort of explosion in the sun.
“I am Kaitlyn Blansett. I have been gone, my loyal subjects, but your prodigal daughter has returned! I have be born again in a faraway land, a phoenix rising from the ashes of my indecisive year as a junior, who has shed its down and flown back to the land of its first birth. I bring tales of exotic peoples and fruits, flora y fauna. I have bathed in the Amazon, dined in the colonial city of Arequipa, sang and danced in the native reggeaton discotheques. I have fallen in love with a place and its people. I have both conquered and been conquered by Peru, a country now bursting with memories and reminders. I wooed the natives with my charm and wit. Come gather round as I bring life to beautiful memories of my Peruvian life, of my Peruvian love, of my Peruvian experience!”
The room falls silent, and I quickly realize the inappropriate nature of my outburst. Embarrassment swallows me whole like your mom did last night. The silence of the room is kept until my esteemed colleague, social work Britney S. from Valparaiso comes to my rescue, my own knight in sparkly blue armor with a tasteful infinity scarf.
“Oh you were in Peru, the country? I thought you meant Peru, Indiana.”
Kaitlyn Blansett recently studied abroad somewhere in Latin America. Please don’t ask her about it.You can follow her on Twitter at @blanseypants.