I’m going to New York City. This trip came up rather suddenly and has sparked a flurry of questions.

What airplane ticket, what hotel, what is the schedule of the main event, what time will I schedule all the meetings, how do you use cell phones in the US, how on earth will I survive a flight all the way to NY without children, why didn’t I train for the New York City Marathon, will Tom and Lucy be okay without me?

And one of the most urgent questions: What am I going to wear?

Three women are going and while our men laughed, we all had the same question. What are we going to wear?

I own sandals and running shoes. So do I freeze my toes off or tromp around in flourescent yellow tennis shoes while wearing a black dress?

I am heading into year number 2 of no shopping, of washing clothes in salty water, of sweating yellow stains into every armpit, and of burned out elastic bands. Year number 2 is a rough one, fashion-wise, in Djibouti. Because we have one long warm season (12-months long), wearing clothes for one year is the equivalent to wearing them for four in Minnesota. With that in mind, I’ve been wearing mine for 6 years.

The other day I went out in something and was so embarrassed when I caught a side glance of myself in a window that upon returning home I took the clothes off and immediately dropped them into my toss-it pile. Those were some of the better clothes.

Its hard to wear such awful earrings and be so shiny and wear such an ill-fitting shirt...ahem...I mean, its hard to look so good

Its hard to wear such awful earrings and be so shiny and wear such an ill-fitting shirt…ahem…I mean, its hard to look so good

So…what am I going to wear?

Blue jeans? It is hard to know whether or not jeans still fit because in the bloated, swollen, sticky-skinned season which is 12-months long, like I said, jeans are hard to pull on.

I could wear the shirt with the coffee stains on the front or the one with the missing buttons or the one with the stretched-out neckline or the one with the crow poop from hanging on the line. I could wear the pants that give me mom-butt. I am a mom and while I have a butt, I prefer to keep the two as far apart as possible.

My hair is in dire need of a hairdresser but I’ve been saving up for a Curly Cuts day in Minneapolis. Haircuts here are expensive so this means I’ve gone six months of no haircut and no hair color. Things are looking gnarly. I didn’t plan on a trip to New York.


I have one fleece jacket that I bought in 2002. It has served me well these past 11 years (since I wear it only while traveling it has seen approximately two-months worth of wear) but I don’t think it was designed to keep people warm at movie premieres.

Because that’s why I’m going. Enough about clothes, this is the important deal: The Runner’s World and Saucony film featuring Girls Run 2 is premiering the weekend of the New York City Marathon. One of the coaches, one of the founders, and I are heading to New York.

Returning to the US is something I like to ease into. I’ve never been there, straight from Djibouti, without my mom or dad’s face being the first thing I see. Familiarity. The grass and lakes of Minneapolis. The house that smells like my childhood. Now it will be one straight thrust into all that is good and overwhelming about American culture without my reliable protection of family and a box of clothes from friends who know I’ve been lost for two years down the fashion no-man’s hole.


Excited. I will bring a box of Kleenex because I know the movie will be stellar and I know the girls will look beautiful and inspiring.

Sad. That Tom and the kids aren’t coming, I’ve never traveled so far without at least one of them along.

Eager. I am planning meetings with other amazing people as well, not all related to the film.

Hopeful. Can’t wait to see what possibilities this holds for the running team.

Foreign. For some reason I really feel my expat-ness thinking about this trip. Maybe because it is taking me out of my Minnesota comfort zone or because I’m feeling culture shock already or because I’m nervous-excited about the implications of some of these meetings. On my last flight to Kenya a man sat next to me who had never flown before. I had helped him with everything from seat buckle to headphones to opening salt and pepper packets but before I could stop him, he ate the butter straight from the plastic pot, with his fork. I feel like I will be an airplane-butter-eater in New York City.

Nervous. Not that I’m this superficial, but okay, maybe I am sometimes. I just came out of the ‘I tuck my dress into my underwear‘ season and I don’t think that flies in New York. Although on the other hand, pretty much anything flies in New York. But still. You know how clothes help with confidence? What am I going to wear?