This one is for you, momma! *pig emoji *purple heart emoji
By the end of the summer of 2017, your daughter, Avery Erickson, had two objectives.
After making the impulsive (but appropriate) decision not to attend Indiana University in the fall, I found myself utterly overwhelmed. How was I supposed to scramble up a plan for my year? Should I go to a community college in Minnesota? Should I go to Montana and stay with grandma and grandpa? Should I travel, and if so, where, and how, and with what money? I was desperate to find something to do, something enriching and important. So we both knew that staying in Fort Wayne, finding part-time work at Mike’s Carwash, and going to the YMCA to ride the same stationary bike was simply not an option.
When I’d finally decided that I wanted travel, you supported me 100%. You stayed up late with me for nights on end, scrolling through that endless list of programs on the American Gap Year Association’s website. Though we’d narrowed it down to a few programs, I still felt rather impartial to all of them. You, however, were insistent on that “Where There Be Dragons” program. So I gave it another look. When I came across the Madagascar semester program and saw the picture of the baobabs, I remembered how le Petit Prince had traveled to a planet of baobabs. So I, too, felt like I should see them.
Mom, I’ve had the absolute time of my life here. I’ve learned bits and pieces of three different languages (Malagasy, Pular, and Wolof). I’ve seen the last two-golden bamboo lemurs on Earth, I’ve slept under the stars, I’ve made couscous from scratch. I’ve walked down the Avenue of the Baobabs, I’ve swum in a natural pool underneath a waterfall, I’ve given away all of those blue-beaded bracelets that Jade gave to me before I left. And mom, I’ve laughed more in these three months than I have all four years combined in high-school, thanks to Lisa Nieuwenhuys, Grace Anderson, Natalie Cotter, Jennie Adler, Adam Blachly, Abi Wrate, Lara Hoffer, and Sam Frankovsky.
They are weirdest, funniest, most intelligent people I have ever met in my life, and I am so incredibly thankful to call them my friends. So to the parents of these weirdos, thank you. I’m a big fan of your work.
So in only a few more days, you’ll be welcoming home a girl who has 7 new sisters, 3 new brothers, 3 new surrogate moms and 2 new surrogate fathers. But this girl has missed her real mom.
I can’t wait to throw off my backpack and bear hug you when I see you in the greatest international hub that is the Fort Wayne airport, but most of all, I can’t wait to tell you all of my wild adventures over a good, black cup of coffee.
(I’ve been drinking instant Nescafé coffee for months).
P.S.—When you come pick me up at the airport, do you think you could bring Bella?