5. Atlanta. It has been a while since I went to Atlanta- probably before I got married. I feel like we used to go all the time when I was a kid, because I have family there. My dad worked for Delta for a while and my uncle used to live there. My aunt still does. The last time that we were there, mom was working a conference and we were heading on to Disney World after that, so we worked a bit and we also did some fun stuff. There's a lot I like about Atlanta. I like the history and the Civil War museums, even though they were on the wrong side. I loved the zoo- I think I was 10 years old the last time I was there! The botanical gardens are absolutely gorgeous (that was the last trip) and there are lots of cool parks and museums, too. There are a lot of things I'm remembering that would be really fun to re-visit, and a lot that Brandon has never seen before that I want to share with him!
4. Washington, D.C. I think a lot of people visit Washington for 8th grade trips. My school did that. But I was in 8th grade in 2001. And a big thing happened then that made our school administration feel Washington might not be a safe place to visit just then. My family couldn't really afford the trip, anyway, so I probably wasn't going to go. But the summer after I finished 8th grade, my cousin went to a sports camp thing at a school in Washington, and my aunt and grandpa were going to make the trip up with her, and I got invited along. We went to a few of the museums and monuments, and it was cool- but I'd like to see more of it. And as a 14 year old, I didn't really appreciate what I was seeing at the time. My fascination with politics and the presidency didn't really set in until I was in college. I care a lot more about what I'd be seeing now than I did then. I hope that Brandon and I are able to make a trip over there sometime and see everything that I missed the first time, and give a better look to the places I've already visited.
3. Gatlinburg. My family used to visit Gatlinburg a lot. I think it was every year for the first few years of my life. And then every other year (we'd alternate between Myrtle Beach and Gatlinburg for a while.) I feel really sentimental about that place, and it makes me sad that I haven't been there in so long! Brandon and I have never taken a vacation together (not since our honeymoon, anyway) and since Gatlinburg is only a few hours away, I'm really hoping we can go there sometime in the next two or three years. So much of it is kitschy and touristy, but I still love it. I love the mountains and the little shops, and all the candy stores (a large part of the town smells like sugar.) I like driving through the woods and I like eating at the Pancake Pantry. It just makes me feel happy.
2. Honduras. I liked being there and the people were really nice, but mostly I just want to hug my kids again. Honduras is really pretty and the people are lovely, but I didn't quite connect with the culture as deeply as I did with the next place.
1. Tanzania. For over two years, I thought about Tanzania every day. I ached to go back there. I miss the red dirt and the clay homes and the big pots of food that I got really sick of eating. I miss hearing Swahili and sweetly accented English. I miss the radiant joy and open hearts. Since I went to Honduras last October, that ache has subsided just a little. I deeply miss being with my kids in Honduras, and feel like I have to get back there as soon as I can to squeeze them and play with them and hold hands and talk with them. But Honduras is a lot closer and more accessible than Tanzania is. If I got a ticket right now to go anywhere I wanted, it would be Tanzania. If I had to move to another country for some inexplicable reason, it would be Tanzania. If I could recommend a place for someone to visit, for a week or a month, it would be Tanzania. It gets under your skin and sets up permanent residence in your heart. You can't shake it. And I so hope that I get to go back someday.