20 Jan 2015
To me, exhilaration is the marriage of deepest fear and purest excitement. As we hit cruising altitude on this first flight leg- Dulles to Brussels- I am suddenly stuck by it. It isn’t the same as the eager anticipation that I experience when I’m wheels up for a holiday adventure. Nor the equal-parts-nervous-and-delighted butterflies that take flight in my stomach when I’m about to see my boyfriend after a long separation. This time it was some inseparable mixture of fight-or-flight level terror and the feeling of scoring the winning goal of your soccer match.
Because, let’s be honest, this suddenly got real. Like, really real. I’m not a first year anymore. I can’t just tool around and have fun. I’m not a research assistant or meeting the chimps for the first time or even piloting random methods to see what’s what.
I am a Master of something. And THIS is my dissertation work. (That’s the completely scary part.)
And now I remember that the hardest part of travel like this is leaving your loved ones and your home behind so many months. You can never know how much things will change while you’re away. And then there’s Marlee. I feel like I’ve abandoned my poor lil pup- who knows if she’ll even recognize me when I get back, smelling like the forest and looking like it too.
On the other hand- I have a proposal and a data protocol and a decent little pile of pilot data to build on. I know the forest and the station and chimps (and where the elephants are easily surprised…). For the first time, I’m returning to a field site instead of starting fresh! Not to mention all the babies! We have so many chimp babies! Possibly more little chimp babies than ever- I almost hesitate to write it down for fear of putting a jinx on the whole operation- but I can’t hold it in I’m elated! It feels like every time we had a lab meeting last semester there was a new baby! On top of all that- the icing on the cake, one might say- is that my best friend will finally overlap with me at Kibale!
So here’s to 2015! The year that I begin my dissertation.
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This blog is a forum share my personal experiences as a field researcher and traveler.