Summer Postcards 2013
Standing on the edge of the river, I breathe in the smell of salt and sea, and think about how, for me at least, Mystic has always been a place that exists outside of reality. It feels like adventure time again. Here, time seems to slow to a stop, and everything is like it was the first summer we spent up here, just after I’d finished first grade, when things seemed a whole lot simpler. Back then I towered over my brothers instead of the other way around, an afternoon with friends meant playing with dolls in the yard, and college was nothing more than somewhere the characters disappeared to in TV shows and movies. But then, of course, as soon as I really start to look there are a bunch of tiny details that prove time does keep moving after all.
We are beginning to get a sense of the way that business works here. The other day I was vividly reminded of an old American history lesson in high school about vertical integration in the steel industry. We learned that large steel companies owned the mines, the production mills, the distribution centers, and the train lines that distributed the finished product.
I indeed made unforgettable memories from immersing myself in the unique and peculiar aspects of Botswana’s culture and tourist attractions: seeing giraffes, baboons, and ostriches in their natural habitat; learning a bit of Setswana; experiencing biweekly power outages; admiring the decorated cow horns and hand-carved wooden masks for sale in marketplaces; and sampling delicious traditional Botswana cuisine. But what left a deeper impression on me was the extent of the similarity between Gaborone and Cambridge.
At 7:30 pm each night, that night’s dinner guests file in, often wearing black robes. Someone rings a gong and everyone in hall must stand silently while the College Master reads a prayer in Latin—even if you’re sitting below and have already finished your meal. Grace at the high table takes precedence over the continuity of undergraduate dinnertime conversations.
With no Canaday or Annenberg over the summer, though, I’ve had to (slightly) adapt my sheltered existence to a strange, new reality: living expenses. And so begins my ongoing summer fling with the local Shaw’s Supermarket (Whole Foods is just out of my league).