How Was Your Trip? by Rachel Rueckert

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This time, I want to say I missed my flight and got locked out of the sketchy hostel in Bogotá but ate “American” pizza with corn topping then trekked through the Amazon swatting mosquitoes and pulled baby alligators from the river at night, their eyes red their scales so slick so strong and the piranhas I caught and ate by the greasy dozens and now I have three days missing from my passport until Peru where I get deported for missing a stamp then chased by dogs but return to stand by stones the size of mountains and wear alpaca sweaters until I go to Hong Kong where democracy protestors shiver outside tents while I eat mouth-scalding McDonald’s fries and fight jetlag in neon lights in a slight hint of rot until Singapore and “Death to Drug Trafficker” signs, then gorge on mango sticky rice in Thailand until I gain ten pounds but don’t notice because no mirrors and the sweet plumeria flowers I photograph until the phone storage is gone, then blister sunburn on the beach and fuss over the ozone while monkeys stalk then try India where I inhale jasmine and befriend a librarian who lets a Brahmin priest bless me with vermillion then the library business fails and my visa expires so my friend teaches me about bridal mehndi and takes me to cover my fingers my hands my wrists with black-brown curls that fleck off leaving ochre-colored trails that last for weeks, even after the sandstorm delay in Dubai and the rainy Easter Mass at the Vatican I watch between colorful umbrellas and the first few weeks of the 500-mile pilgrimage across Spain where my feet hurt my feet hurt my toenails purple my feet hurt but my soul is on fire and bursts into song and I have lost everything but gained everything and carry it all in a single school bag on my back and no I cannot go home, never no never want to go back be tamed please don’t end until I get on a plane and am here nine months later and feel lucky and sorry and tired and changed.

But I don’t say that.

Instead, I say, “It was great. Good food. Interesting culture. Perfect weather.”

Meet the Contributor
rachel in field of yellow flowersRachel Rueckert is a Utah-born, New York-based MFA candidate at Columbia University, where she also teaches essay writing for Columbia’s Undergraduate Writing Program. Her short and long-form nonfiction on family, mental health, travel, and navigating life as a liberal Mormon feminist have appeared in River Teeth, The Carolina Quarterly, Roads & Kingdoms, and others. More information can be found on her website:

STORY IMAGE CREDIT: Flickr Creative Commons/HJL

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