Recently an experience from my childhood has vividly returned to my memory.
I am a child, perhaps 8-9 sitting in my grandmothers living room as the adults are talking. One woman, a journalist and childhood friend of my mom and aunt, is speaking about a trip to the middle east. She is talking about riding a military personel carrier plane and having a large tick removed from her scalp.
I don’t remember really anything else that she spoke about or even who she was, until I spoke with my aunt and realized it was Cathy Scott. She is is an American true crime writer and investigative journalist, born and raised in San Diego. Childhood friend to both my aunt and mom.
What is interesting about this memory is that she represents to me one of two important figures that have helped shape my sense of self. She represents the adventurer, the woman with dust from far away lands, carrying stories of people and lands into my grandmothers living room and my heart. She represented part of the woman I wanted to become.
When I asked Cathy about the memory, it turns out the story fits even more.
It was Somalia and Saudi Arabia I had gone to during Operation Restore Hope in the midst of the turf and civil wars within the country. The tick was awful! In Baidoa, a nurse in a make-shift hospital put some purple stuff on it, trying to get it to back out. It left quite a hole in my scalp, as I recall (I’d almost forgotten about that)! And I got bitten up by mosquitos too, which was sobering, because they carry diseases (as do ticks, as you probably know).
The armored personal transport flight was surreal, sitting with 1st Marines arriving in country via the gutted-out cabin with Humvees loaded in the back. My gear was actually sitting on the seat of a Humvee.
I didn’t consciously carry this memory with me, it sat somewhere in the recesses of my mind and reemerged while I was sortting through the profound experience of traveling to Uganda and of this entire year of change.
I am still sorting out what it all means, and trying to awaken my mind to the intricacies of the experience in a way that can prove helpful to myself and others. It feels like I have writers bloc, and the best way to get through writers bloc is to start with what you can write about until you arrive at what you need to write about. At least I hope so.