Hello, and congratu-lations for reaching the end of my blog. This is the Mitzi of anniver-saries pas-sed: My first day on the ship, first port, first caterpillar, first moment of enlightenment, and the second.
As it's now obvious that my efforts to halt time have failed, the time to write the conclusion has come. It's hard for me to write, as it denotes the end of the action; regarding this blog as "finished" would detach every incident, event and exploit from myself as they join other departed memories that only grow staler over time. This process allows the deaths incurred to die, the love to cease swelling, the excitement to be snuffed out.
With 2009, a tumultuous year of honors theses, graduation, moving back home, it has also been impossible to find time until now, when I am living out each hour of every day, very quietly, until my next adventure.
Now people are asking about my future. I know it's my duty as a college graduate to repay my patron (grand)parents—get a job and live independently of the family I'll visit often anyway, because I love them.
But the truth is that, after Semester at Sea, after four months of being shocked and inspired by the world, I can't help but feel like I'd be cheating myself if I settled for anything less. Maybe I'm spoiled. People have said that. But knowing how large the world is, how diverse, and now, how accessible it can be, I can't settle for less. Not unless my parents kick me out before my next adventure, to start in July of 2010, in Japan.
Beyond career paths, SAS influences me every day; as soon as I decided to live again, alas, on land, my memories started integrating themselves into my present. A feather-adorned vagabond I've seen in Salinas reminds me of Papa Smurf in Cape Town; dirty drunks recall that Salvadorian beer swiper. Why was it so easy to sympathize in countries I'd never been to, when I never even considered my own country? Now, I try to be mindful of their cir-cumstances, and I keep food in my car for the next guy who needs it.
The strongest effect SAS has had on me, I'm a little embarrassed to say, is in the emotions. Compassion hands my lunch to the homeless. Gratitude is what calms me down in long lines. Love insists patience with friends and family. I've even cried watching Oprah.
And for the first time, I really miss my friends. I thought that comparing American tastes with them in Hawaii was exciting, but having memories from eleven countries to share is unsurpassable.
In short, I hope you read this blog. Skimming the first time through is okay, but I hope you actually read it sometime, to learn about me, my experiences, to see that your money was put to good use. Even if you learn nothing, I expect it will provide you with enough material for a good conversation—with me, with my cousins, with an attractive stranger at the carwash who's just returned from Africa—as every good coffee table blog should.