What’s a girl from Brooklyn doing in a place like this?

This week I sat with Will, my husband and business partner, at a butcher block table in our Ann Arbor, Michigan, office and planned our travel schedule for 2009 and 2010, some trips together, others separately, all with our clients. For me: Oaxaca and Chiapas, South Africa, India, Guatemala, Indonesia, Western Australia. How I got from my beginning to here and to there and there and there is a continual wonder to me. I left my apartment house on East 19th Street in Brooklyn 41 years ago at age 17, never to live again in New York. My mailing addresses have been in South Hadley, Massachusetts and Madison, Wisconsin, and Philly, Boston, Ann Arbor and Kathmandu. accessed from the Himalayas, SE Asia, Australia and Central America. But my identity is so clear and my picture of myself as a little girl in Flatbush so indelible that I’m baffled when I look around me: How did I get here? What’s a girl from Brooklyn doing in a place like this? What could Joanie Schwartz, daughter of Edie and Irwin, possibly be doing on a floating island in Lake Titicaca, in a Tzintzuntzan cemetery at midnight on the Night of the Dead, sitting with Buddhist nuns in a nunnery on the outskirts of Yangon? How did Hymie and Rose’s grandchild find herself dancing in a field in the Kathmandu Valley with a bevy of red-sareed women? Sitting with my husband and the fishing ropes on the roof of a small Mekong ferry making its way to Sihanoukville? How do I even know that there IS a place called Sihanoukville? In Burma with a JOURNEYS Womens Group