I was standing in the tiny boarding area of the airport, in our second day of trying to fly off of the mountain. The day prior we had waited for hours for a plane to come to take us off of this mountain, but as we watched plane after plane come and go off of this runway which felt no longer than a soccer field, we learned that none of those planes were for us.
I was tired.
I was tired of being cold.
I was tired of being dirty.
I was tired of wearing the same clothing day in and day out.
I was tired of bathrooms with no toilet paper, and at times bathrooms with no toilets.
As I stood there, looking at the two doors labeled “Gate 1” and “Gate 2”, which consisted entirely of a glass door with a window missing and a second door which was inaccessible due to the row of chairs that had been placed in front of it, trying to figure out the Nepali system of air flight, I thought, “what was this all for?”
I began singing to pass the time. Words from Patty Griffin’s “Up to the Mountain (MLK song)” came strolling out of my mouth, and I began swaying back and forth in an exaggerated dance movement. I noticed a man dressed in a Nepali officer’s uniform come up beside me, as he began to move with my music, and we broke out into smiles.
This is what it is all for. My moments of exhaustion and frustration were wiped away in that brief moment. The moments in my life where I so often find the joy are the moments when I am connecting with another person. I took this moment and chewed on it, digested it. I’ve had more than one person ask me in the past months about what excites me. Sometimes, when I’m feeling lost, I can struggle to find an answer. This moment seemed to arrive to remind me.
I’m excited by connection. Relating to others. When I think back to my times climbing through the Himalayan trails that had been created by sherpas so many years ago, I remember building a snowman with my porter. I remember lying in a sleeping bag late at night, laughing with my travel partner at the fact that we had chosen to spend night after night wrapped in down sleeping bags and extra blankets. I remember my guide offering me tiger balm to ease my running nose, which resulted in tears as it burned my skin, but also resulted in smiles and stories as we looked at how our cultures had connected in these moments (namely, me turning into a cartoon character as I tried to navigate the sensations on my skin).
I truly believe that everyone has to find his or her own meaning in life. For me, I keep coming back to the people that I have crossed paths with.
Last night, I invited friends into my home to usher in the new year. I know I am not the most refined hostess. I often find I have forgotten to offer people a drink as they enter my apartment. My food is not fancy. My party playlist consists of me just putting my ipod on shuffle and letting it run, which means that sometimes my guests get depressing folk music, and sometimes they get musicals. Having said that, I watched last night as my friends made themselves at home in my kitchen, making extra treats to serve each other. I saw friends settle on the floor, content to make their own space in my studio apartment with not enough chairs. I saw people bring their own board games. And I saw the laughter unfold. I saw people genuinely enjoying each other. I saw people weaving their stories together, creating our connected journeys in our lives.
I may not be the most fancy hostess. I may not have the most glamourous life. I hope, however, that people will continue to feel at home in my presence. I hope that people can continue to share their stories with me and around me. I hope that in my coldest moments on the mountains, I can still find reasons to smile with others.