In My Heart of Hearts

‘Twas twelve days before our departure, and still here I sit,

Not preparing at all for the upcoming trip;

I should be making lists, I should be packing,

But I do not leave the couch, content with my slacking.

Winter break is often considered to be a reprieve. A month or so of no school, sleeping in, holidays, home-cooked meals, New Year’s Eve parties, and relaxation.

I have learned over the beginning of my first winter break as a graduate student that I do not know how to relax. Here is a brief list of things I have done during my five-day break:

  • Gone to campus every day
  • Organized papers from this semester
  • Organized my binders for next semester
  • Cleaned my house
  • Done the dishes
  • Updated my CV

Here is a list of things I have not done, but need to:

  • Pack for Texas

I tell myself I haven’t started because I am waiting to do laundry at my nana’s over Christmas (laundry is expensive!), but the truth is, it is because packing will make this trip real. Since Dr. Latham asked me to be part of the team, it has been more of an idea. I’ve read articles about Falfurrias and past blog posts, trying to prepare myself. In my heart of hearts, I know that no amount of news articles or blog posts can prepare me for the impact this trip will have.

As someone who prefers to be in control, who likes to know exactly what is going on at all times, this boundless unknown is disconcerting to say the least. My anxieties about flying, overpacking, physical work, and homesickness make staying on my couch a much easier option than actively preparing for the trip.

While my anxieties are valid, they seem trivial in comparison to those choosing to cross the border. In a way, my anxieties are a perfect demonstration of the immense privilege I have. I am privileged to be flying instead of hiking. Privileged because the only real packing limit is the size of our rental van, not how much I can carry for miles. I know that while the physical work will be exhausting, I will have water, food, and a shower every day. And finally, I know that I will return home on January 12th.

It may seem as though the anxiety outweighs the excitement, but for every worry I have, I have ten things to be excited about.

I am beyond excited to be back in the field. I was fortunate enough to do archeological work at Cahokia Mounds during my time as an undergraduate, and I have been longing to be back in the field ever since. I am excited to build upon the skills I have and to learn new ones.

I am excited to bond with my team, both in and out of the field. I am excited to meet those living near the border whose work I’ve admired through stories and articles. I am excited to meet other students whose interests align with my own. I am excited to make new memories.

Most importantly, I am excited to fulfil the promise I made to my alma mater to be “A woman for and with others”.