And I'm thankful for the normal tidbits of life. The first month of my marriage involved a lot of moving around. We stayed home, in Minneapolis, the first few days, to spend time with family, as our move to Japan was imminent. Then it was off to Madison to visit our sister (I claim her now, too). Then a mere 7 days after our wedding, we flew off to Newport, Rhode Island for three-week Navy training, Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) school. In those three weeks, we spent both weekends in Boston, scurrying around, and shoving as much into two weekends as a couple of passionate people can.
Then we finally arrived in Japan. And by then we were both exhausted. Ready to settle down, stay in one spot, live in a place you can call home. Even then, there were endless places to explore, as Japan is a culture chocked full of history and distinction, and our peninsula is riddled with beaches and coffee shops and yakiniku stands and shrines and a giant Buddha. Oh, and Tokyo's just around the bend. Don't even get me started on how giant that metropolis is.
I guess you could say, though I thrive on excitement and thirst for adventure, I now appreciate a little differently those norms in our lives. Those doing-laundry, feeding-the-cat, making-lunch days. So I'm going to tell you about my latest project. You see, I find little necessity to find work out here. My heart lies with wildlife, African in particular. So I'm trying to fill my time wisely. I want to be inspired. And I want to be ready for the future. I still want to work on safari, and it's inching closer. It won't happen for another 4-5 years, of course, but I refuse to compromise this dream that lays so heavy on my heart to wasted time. That would be silly.
My goal is to learn as much information as I can about African wildlife before venturing to train there. On my own, I can't learn everything I'll need - first aid, how to fire a rifle, how to approach megafauna, how to camp ... But I can learn wildlife identification. And I can learn their ecology and behavior, too.
So our office has been transformed. The wallpaper now consists of photos of antelope, giraffe, and, as of today, hippopotamuses. I have made flash cards to quiz myself. Yes, this is actually true. Like a 7th grader would do ;)
But it's fascinating. I've learned that there's actually a deer in Africa. A deer. In a small blip in Northern Tunisia. Nothing else in Africa has antlers. I've learned there's a thing called a chevrotain, and that most hooved animals (ungulates) are ruminants (cud chewers). Even giraffes. I've been a bit disgusted to discover the giant forest hog. I thought I'd seen a lot. I've experienced bush babies and vervet monkeys and the African lion and hippopotamuses and the common warthog and wild dogs and, for a split second, a serval. But I am yet again mind blown by the animal kingdom. The vastness of it can't be covered. We know so little, and while I'm thankful for the wild places still out there, I'm also thankful we try to discover hidden treasures like these.
I hope you visit me on safari someday. Plan for 2017. I think I'll be ready by then.