What We Leave, and What We Take

Travelling to Texas over the past few summers is always challenging.  We usually try and pack in as much as humanly possible.  This applies not only to our luggage, but also our time in the Lone Star state.  Every day is crammed full of experiences to ensure that no second of time is wasted.  This year we completed 17 skeletal analyses (alongside the fine people of Texas State University), participated in “Missing in Harris County Day”, and even managed to have a little extra time to construct and fill water stations in Brooks County.

Jess
My beautiful wife, Jessica.

Every time I travel I cannot help but think about what I’m taking and what I’m leaving behind.  Leaving Indianapolis, my first instinct is to pour over the trivial things… like did I bring underwear? or how much deodorant do I need for 10 days?  Those thoughts soon give way to the more meaningful.  The first and most important thing I leave behind every time I visit Texas is my beautiful wife.  Everyone who knows me will tell you that I’m not always the easiest person to get along with.  Jessica and I have been married for nearly 9 years now, which places her level of patience and understanding on par with saints.  It may seem silly, but I always feel like part of her is with me on my journey.  She understands that the work we do is meaningful and important, and I could not do it without her support.

Watson is on the case.
Watson is on the case.

I left something new at home this year… This 3-year-old basset hound mix Jessica and I adopted from the Indianapolis Humane Society.  We changed his name to Watson, a fitting name for an intelligent and loyal side kick.  He has already become a member of our family, and I look forward to our future lives together.

The last thing I left in Indianapolis was my case knife.  I forgot that it was in my jacket pocket before the TSA security checkpoint.  It may sound trivial, but I loved that knife.  I am also glad that the TSA is doing their job so well.  I hope you enjoy my knife (although I suggest you clean it before using it).

The things that I take and leave from Texas are much more ephemeral.  If I had to choose one material thing to take back to Indy, it would be HEB grocery stores (sorry, everything else, its’s HEB!).  Alas, like most of the wonderful people and places in Texas, I am forced to leave them all behind.  I leave behind friends who treated us like family.  I leave behind families still searching for loved ones.  I also leave behind an amazing group of individuals that continue to fight for human rights, and aid in the identification of the missing.  People like the wonderful faculty and students of Texas State, and Eddie Canalez and Ryan Strand of the South Texas Human Rights Center show us what we can accomplish if our hearts and minds are in the right place.

I hope that I have taken part of that fight with me.  Although it seems that we are thousands of miles away from issues on the border, these issues permeate our entire country.  Even with this perceived separation, it is how we act now that that will that will continue to shape our great country.  Our country was founded on the magnanimous ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  I believe that everyone should have access, after all, todos somos inmigrantes (we are all immigrants).

Justin

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