Thankful for Change
All day my heart hurt, and I felt an emptiness inside that I haven’t felt since my first week away from home when I left for college. I was homesick.
It was my first Thanksgiving away from my family and I was 5,500 miles away from home with people from all different countries, all of which do not celebrate the holiday.
The food has been quite strange here in Uruguay. We mostly eat at the restaurant in the hotel which has the same menu so I rotate between dishes. On Monday, we went to a Yacht Club with the AIPS representative of Uruguay, Ernesto, and he treated us to Asado—which is essentially like barbeque.
They came out with a big plate of grilled meats that were absolutely delicious. I picked up one that looked a bit strange and asked Clara what it was. She said I had to put lemon and salt on it and try it. She said, “Chinchulin”. I said, “it looks like an intestine.” She said, “Just try it.”
GUYS. I ATE A COW INTESTINE. IT WAS SO GROSS. (I have a video... maybe I will share on twitter at somepoint).
This made me want Thanksgiving dinner even more.
The next night we were sitting at dinner when the professional basketball players who play in Montevideo and stay at our hotel came by. They are all from America so they have been extremely friendly. They asked me what my plans were for Thanksgiving and I told them how sad I was to miss my first one. Being basketball players, a lot of them have missed Thanksgiving for years now so they made me feel better about it. One of them said that every year on Thanksgiving he does the most American thing he can think of on Thanksgiving and he goes and eats and Burger King… I didn’t do that.
Instead, I woke up and texted my family group chat to let them know how much I love and miss them.
I showered, got ready, had some breakfast and coffee and went on with my day of classes and writing stories. It felt like any other day here in Uruguay, except I had major FOMO (fear of missing out).
Every year my family has the annual turkey bowl at my high school where our family and friends get together and play a good old-fashioned game of Thanksgiving Day football. I was tagged in photos on Instagram of my family at the game and I opened the app thinking I would just find pictures of them playing, but instead saw pictures of them all holding my fathead from my senior game of soccer in college. They are the best. I couldn’t ask for a better family.
After my busy day of classes and writing I watched the Cowboys vs. Redskins game in my room with Clara and was explaining “American football” to her. After the game we went downstairs for dinner and joined the others. The restaurant made a special of chicken cordon bleu and Clara told the waiter in Spanish that my favorite dish at home for Thanksgiving is mashed potatoes, so he made the entire group mashed potatoes. She is the best. I didn’t’ have turkey, but my meal was delicious. The group even went around the table and each told me what they were thankful for. They really are a great group.
I said, “I am thankful because even though I can’t be home with my actual family, I’m so happy I can be here with a new family from all over the world that has made me feel so special today.”
After dinner a bunch of people from the group came back to our hotel room to watch the Thursday night football game between the Falcons and the Saints. I had a blast with my new friends.
I tend to struggle with change, but this Thanksgiving I realized that different is OK.