A Lawrentian in Chile

Burnett, Shaunna

I was trawling about online a couple of days ago when I noticed that even normal websites, not of a cooking bent, kept flashing turkey recipes at me. Huh. Thanksgiving already? I paused to reminisce about my grandmother’s pecan pie and the annual how-are-we-going-to-cook-the-turkey discussion, then continued on.
Yesterday, I ate mulberries off a tree and sprawled out on the grass after I’d saturated myself with the monitor’s washed-out glow. I fell asleep for a half an hour and returned to the computer lab toasty with a sunburn.
Last night, the window was open when I was falling asleep. The air was warm and soft and I heard a neighbor saying, “Hey, monkey! Where you going?” The men kept chatting under my window and it slowly dawned on me that I’d understood what was said without pausing to translate each word.
I was translating tourist information at my internship this morning when I surprised my supervisors by finishing in half the time. I am by no means fluent in Spanish, but that was the most quantifiable sign of improvement I’ve had yet.
I left my internship office early and ambled down the street, feeling my fingers swell from the heat. I started planning Christmas gifts and subsequent online shopping in my head, which started me on holiday reminiscences. This made me realize that it’s cold in the States right now, even in the Sonoran Desert. My parents are contending with Christmas cards and politicking with the extended family, sharing out their children’s vacation time between grandparents. Lawrentians are arranging to be home, to visit a friend’s home, or to create a makeshift, campus-bound home for Thanksgiving.
And so it hit me: it is hot and dry here, not cold and frosty, and no one cares about Thanksgiving. Something else will kick off the shopping season – there’s always something. No large fowl will be cooked in any manner, no one will clean frenziedly, no one will discuss the political correctness of Thanksgiving’s historical origins, and there will be no other typical Turkey Day traditions. Somehow, the absence of this holiday that I won’t have celebrated in Arizona for three years now made me take heed that I am really not at home right now.
It seems that while I try to make Chile familiar, known, and in some manner my own, and I find myself more and more at ease here, these little moments become curiouser and curiouser.