Thursday, March 3, 2011

Birthdays are nature’s way of telling us to eat more cake

This past Monday I celebrated my 25th birthday – and my third in Mali – and now I have a whole ¼ of a century under my pagne!  When I tell American friends I have turned 25 they wave their hand as though brushing away a concern – how young!  But what are you doing with your life, they ask?  When I tell Malians I have turned 25 they shake their heads as though bemoaning the passing of time – unmarried and without children?!  But what are you doing with your life, they insist?

Thanks to Jamie for hosting a killer birthday bash this past weekend!

While the tone of the question seems to ask for different responses – I get the feeling my American friends are looking for more of a career road map whereas my Malian friends are looking for more of a wedding or delivery date – the answer is still the same.  On verra! I say, we will see! 

 oooh!  All locked up so we'll never know the secret of 'the beautiful women'

Most of the Peace Corps Volunteers I meet in Mali apologize when they ask what I am doing when I COS (close-of-service) because they cringe when someone else asks the same of them.  Birthdays are lovely times to reflect on the question though and so I have been doing a fair share of it lately.  However, the question just seems to beg (for me) more questions…  Questions like could I see myself living abroad in the long term?  Would I enjoy working in development?  Would I want to live in West Africa after my time with Peace Corps Mali comes to a close?  I yi yi, je ne sais pas!

Jamie generously hosted a party for his Feb/Mar birthday buddies (l-r) Fletcher - March 3, Laura - March 1 and me - February 28 

If you’re curious though, my latest obsession has been with the Trans-siberian railway and maybe, after Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s 2012, making a somewhat around the world trip for a few months.  Consider this my official ‘putting out the feelers announcement’ for those interested in joining me on pieces of the journey (or if you’ve got a lot of time off, all of it!) or if you know someone along the way with whom I could stay!  Wouldn’t it be great to celebrate my 26th birthday together on the rails of Russia passing through a frozen tundra with the spires of Moscow in the distance??

Brunch at the Comme Chez Soi with Monica and Sara

Turning 25, and maybe I am saying this more for myself than for anyone else, wasn’t scary or emotional in terms of a pivotal time in my life (maybe 26 is??...) but I think that is thanks to liking where I live and enjoying the work I do.  I am so thankful for the thoughtful friends and family in my life who make every day a new adventure and something to look forward to.  Thanks also to all of my parents who made this 25th birthday a possibility – I really couldn’t have done it without you J  Oh, and as for what I am doing with my life…well, on verra!   

a sunset not far from my house in Bamako
See more pictures from the festivites here!


Laura said...

jennifer! i was just talking with rob (my bf) about how i wanted to take the trans-siberian train! we actually had a mutual friend who took it from china to germany after he finished a teaching term in rural china...and i've been itching to follow his travel tracks ever since! i also have a deep-seeded desire to visit scandinavia and asia in the not-so-distant future (well, in the next 10 years, i hope). so please keep me updated on your plans...i think you would be a great travel companion and the idea sounds good to boot!

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday, Jennifer. 25 IS young and whatever you decide, I know you've got many incredible adventures ahead of you. Bisous!

Anonymous said...

Happy 25th. I hope you enjoyed it. I turned 25 in Mali too. :)

Some of the most interesting people don't know what they're doing even at 50. (Or so I've been told :)
Don't rush it babe. Take your time and figure it out.
And I understand that all the malians there will be like, "What about marriage, what about babies?" Those will come as well.

Enjoy you're time there because once you leave, those will be some of the best memories you have. And when you come back to the US you need to come to the DC area so we can hang :)

Oh and I still need to talk to you about the horse...


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