Footprints

Sophia Youngdahl - Senegal


May 25, 2019

I found grains of sand in my tennis shoes the other day. It was not a particularly large amount nor overwhelming; a few grains simply tumbled out of my shoes and onto my carpeted floor. They were out of sight in seconds. As I continued to unpack, I found more sand – in my suitcase, in my purse, folded into crevices of shirts and souvenirs all hastily packed together. Minuscule grains, barely noticeable, taking their refuge in my belongings. Senegal sand, coming back home with me. 

That sand covered the streets around my house I traveled over thousands of times, walking to school or buying breakfast or playing soccer with my brothers. Sand I left an insurmountable number of footprints in that were inevitably blown away with each new day, each new hour, each new gust of wind making its way across the coast. Footprints in the sand were never meant to stay, after all. Impermanence and change are unavoidable factors in life, and two of the most painful things to deal with. Leaving Senegal and facing the impermanence of the situation was incredibly difficult, and often times, as stated in my previous post, the experience seems to slip away with the reality I am living in now. Sometimes it seems like a dream, like this reality is the only one I have ever been a part of. Sometimes I feel as though the footprints I made no longer count and are lost to the new ones that have since covered them up.

And sometimes I find grains of sand in my shoes.

Remnants of footprints. Proof, one might say, that they existed. Remnants that have now found refuge in my blue shag carpet. 

Although my experience in Senegal may seem distant, it is still very much vibrant and with me in nearly everything I do. 

Time moves on. People change, things change, experiences and realities begin and end in a constant cycle. 

But there will always be grains of sand tumbling out of your tennis shoes; little pieces of experiences that embed themselves in any reality you live in.

I feel as though I will always be finding pieces of those sandy streets upon which I learned and loved more than I thought possible. Throughout the changes that will come to pass, what I gained from this experience will always remain a constant. 

I am beyond grateful for this experience and the people who made it incredible. 

I will never, ever forget. 

Those grains of sand will remain in my carpet for a long time. The home I found  will remain with me always. 

Jërëgenjef. 

Adja Fall 

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Sophia Youngdahl