Bittersweet Aftertaste

Mount Kenya Safari Club - June 23, 1993

"I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can." ~Beryl Markham, West with the Night

I have been asked, on many occasions, what my choice would be in terms of a “dream job”. My answer changes depending on mood but it always includes travel. It wasn’t always so. At one time I intended to be an English teacher for high school students in their senior year… British Literature. Lucky(?) for me, life intervened and I didn’t finish my university degree. Had I completed on time then I would have been in the classroom before I realized that I really do abhor teenagers. (Oh, I love my own. Sort of. I’ll get back to you on that one.)

I have had a taste of this travel job or that one from time to time. In fact, I was a travel agent for a while. I thought my agency was going to go out of business (It didn’t, but it came close.) so I left. In my professional career… that’s the closest to “dream job” I have had the pleasure to come near; but, while quite tasty, it wasn’t the ideal daily meal either. I survived off the concept of “those who cannot go… send”. One should not live vicariously through one’s clients but I find myself doing it again as I now work in a resort.

The summer after my first year at university, however, I had the “job” of a lifetime though I didn’t get paid… monetarily. There was a professor from the U.S. Midwest who used to come teach classes at the seminary my father helped to found in Kenya. That summer he came to Kenya for a much different purpose. He had put together a tour group… made all the arrangements… planned the agenda, etc. He asked if I would be available, since I had returned to Kenya for the summer, to go along and be the group’s unofficial tour guide.

It was delectable.

That opportunity taught me a lot about people and about myself and even about my Kenya… as we visited places I had never been before and I had to do a bit of research after I received the itinerary. I remember vowing to take my “job” seriously despite having no professional experience and that is what I did. I also kept a journal. I dug it out as I began writing this post to discover that, after a few days, I simply stopped writing. Odd; however, what there is I now find extremely disjointed and juvenile. I enjoy the prompt of memories it evokes though reading it is quite painful.

I should have realized years ago how pleasing that particular two weeks of that particular summer was to my palate and changed the course of my life accordingly. Upon returning to school I should have switched career paths, studied anthropology or international business or something less I-adore-English-literature and more I-have-to-get-back-to-Kenya.

Oh, how I sometimes wish an aftertaste was as sweet as the original bite.

"But, for a little while, this is the place for us -- a good place too--a place of good omen, a place of beginning things--and of ending things I never thought would end." ~Beryl Markham, West with the Night


  1. I recently re-read "West with the night"...and, as always, it rekindled my desire to fly.

    My sister and I had a conversation the other day sort of along these lines. It's a tricky thing to say "I wish I'd done this different". Because I like the path I'm on, I know it's where my feet are supposed to be. I wish I had ignored the ones who told me it was impossible. There are things I wish I'd known, and if I'd known them at the time then I would have made different decisions. But the results of those decisions would have set me on a different path. And that would be a tragedy. Hence, the tricky part.

  2. I think I did exactly what you wish you did. It's not perfect every day, but it's certainly been an exciting life.

  3. I try not to use my hindsight too much as sometimes, it's simply too painful to think about that which could have been if certain things did or didn't happen. However, there are things about my life now; wonderful things, that might not have happened or might not exist if I chose a different path and so I manage not to dwell on the "what ifs" too much.

    Still though...


    I completely understand ♥


"Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you?" ~Walt Whitman


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