I have arrived in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where I am spending the night before I make the 5-hour drive to the Rosebud Reservation. My partner, who grew up in eastern South Dakota, insisted, and it sounded like a good idea after three connecting flights, so here I am. Thanks to the really nice person at the Enterprise Rental counter, I got a half-price room! yeeha!
The title of this post refers to the moment in Contact when Jodi Foster's character is scared as heck, but keeps telling mission control that she's ready to be blasted off into space; the ship is shaking so badly that she's being thrown around, and her voice is bumpy, but she just keeps repeating "Okay to go. Okay to go." I think I had a few of those moments this morning--I want to go, but boy is it hard to leave.
This morning was difficult, with last-minute decisions about stuff to put in--or take out--of my suitcase. It's hard to pack for a whole month in an isolated place--I have trouble figuring out what I'll need. But they have a grocery there, and I'll have a car, so I took out a few more things... So there was the hurry-scurry that always happens the day of departure. And some anxiety about the condition of the roads, after yesterday's snow-and-ice storm. And then there were the tears, too. I can't believe I won't see my family for a month; I'm going to miss them terribly. I bet my boy is going to be taller when I get home. It hurts that I'm not going to be there for him when he feels bad, or needs to talk out a question, or wants to share something funny. I'm missing a part of his life, and that feels really sad.
And then there's the slight dread--as in, I hope I'm not making a horrible mistake by setting out on this adventure. But adventures require risk. I'm usually a very risk-averse person, but this is the kind of risk I feel like I need to take in order to move forward. This adventure holds the possibility of growth, both for me and my family. So here I go.
I am headed to the Rosebud Reservation, home of Sinte Gleska University, where I have been given permission to sit in on a month's worth of a class about Lakota culture. The class, on ceremony & health, is taught by an elder I've met there briefly a couple times in years past. I'll be staying in Mission, at a place I've stayed before, thanks to some very generous people who host my university's group for spring break work.
I also hope to explore the area more (weather permitting); I'd like to see Wounded Knee. I brought with me some books to read (though I expect to buy more at the university bookstore), and knitting projects to work on. I even brought a little bit of roving to spin with a spindle. With enough books and enough fiber at my disposal, I imagine I'll be happy as a clam.
I also hope to meet people, learn from them, and share with them. My highest hopes are to make some new friends.
Wish me luck!