I already miss my kids and “Notice: We will follow you to Madagascar, Student Loan Deadbeat!”

“Grand adventure calls and tugs on my heartstrings.”

I didn’t say this, but it’s a good start to this post. It’s what my friend Michaela depicted me as saying to my son Lux as he left the house this morning. I am leaving for a month-long trip that includes a few weeks in Madagascar and was sitting at the window watching his brothers at the bus stop and he was kissing me goodbye.

“Do you watch us get on the bus every day?” he asked me.

I don’t, but I wish I watched them more. I also wish I’d got a photo of them getting on the bus today to alleviate my anxiety and the tugging on my heartstrings. You’d think I’d never traveled or been away from my family before, but for some reason this trip has me more anxious about being away from the kids than usual. The world is a mess, and anxieties are looking for anchorage on things I can’t control (or, in Malinowski-ish, I am leaving the lagoon to fish in the open sea)?

Instead, I got a photo of this, which was on my door after taking Gallifrey for the last walk I’ll be giving him for a month.

Nothing like starting off a month away from home and traveling abroad like a notice from the sheriff about a civil matter. Oh, student loan debt (gulp, I hope?), thank you for that reminder that I still haven’t escaped you, despite feeling like I’m living my anthropological dream.

Before that, however, and after mooning over my children and weirding them out, I slipped back into the perennial dilemma of which of these items that I don’t need could fit in the last remaining crevice of my new suitcase, purchased specifically for this trip since the last one was about to burst and which is now in jeopardy of following its predecessor to rupturing on the luggage carousel.

I couldn’t decide which pair of shoes to leave behind, and I needed to find a spot for this giant fuzzy dog pillow. (Note: Using the expand zipper option on your new suitcase to stuff a husky in will put you over the luggage weight limit. You’ll have to pay an extra $100 or remove one husky or two sports coats or pairs of jeans. Damn. However, Gallifrey apparently is on a group text with these friends, who are waiting for me on the other side, courtesy their humans, Michaela Howells, James Loudon, and Carolyn Jost Robinson.)

I’ve written before about the importance of professional social support when doing fieldwork. Whatever form that takes.

Logistic support is also important. Part of what has me so anxious is lining everything up for my family at home while lining everything up for me for a 2-stage trip. As banal as it is, getting to the airport in Birmingham from Tuscaloosa has been a giant pain in the ass for the entire 7 years we’ve been here until now. We finally have a dependable and affordable shuttle service. Scuttleshuttle.com apparently started last August, but I just found out about them in February when I was juggling pickups for 1700 people for the SEEPS 2017 conference. This is no small thing. They have a good website for booking that is easy to use. Their vans are conveniently located with free park and ride. The vans are nice and new and have free wifi! The drivers are drug and alcohol tested (which I wasn’t really thinking about, but OK) and well paid, so they’re not allowed to accept tips. I chatted up a storm and the time flew by instead of stressing if I was going to have enough time to get the shuttle from the cheap Ramada lot to my plane in time. Booking on the shuttle also forced me onto their schedule, leaving earlier, so I don’t put myself in the position of running late. Of course there is now this 2 hours of sitting in the airport…

So, anyway, DAY ONE: First stop, University of North Carolina Wilmington to get some writing done with Michaela on our “Family and the Field Study,” an invited lecture about tattooing and evolution at UNCW, then off to Madagascar to meet with the director, teachers, and students at Eagles Wings Montessori School and talk about our collaborative program potential.

Christopher Lynn

About Christopher Lynn

Christopher Dana Lynn is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Alabama, where he founded the Evolutionary Studies program.  Chris teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in biological anthropology, human sexuality, evolution, biocultural medical anthropology, and neuroanthropology.  He received his Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology in 2009 from the University at Albany, SUNY, where his doctoral focus was on the influence of speaking in tongues on stress response among Pentecostals.  Chris runs a human behavioral ecology research group where the objectives include studying fun gimmicky things like trance, religious behavior, tattooing, and sex as a way of introducing students to the rigors of evolutionary science.  In all his “free” time, he breaks up fights among his triplet sons, enjoys marriage to the other Loretta Lynn, strokes his mustache, and has learned to be passionate about Alabama football (Roll Tide!).  Follow Chris on Twitter: @Chris_Ly
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