So I’m sure by now you have heard the news about me contracting typhoid (see below) and some of you might also now know that due to this I will be leaving Africa early.
Like really early.
Like the day after tomorrow.
I guess that means it’s time for me to write the finishing up blog.
I’ve been thinking about this particular blog for awhile. What will I write in it? Who is it for? Is it the last one I will write or will this be a brief hiatus?
Usually when I write these posts I imagine myself writing a letter to you. I imagine the people who read these were, or are by now because honestly if you’ve read these you know parts of me that were unchartered mere months ago, intimate friends. This imagination allowed me to be completely honest and allow myself to write about what I loved and what I feared and what I wanted more then anything. It allowed for honesty I can be proud of and some of the purest, most raw, best writing I have done in awhile.
But this blog isn’t for you.
This one is for me. Because this is my time being finished up, my era ending, my closure needed; I need to write for myself this once. Welcome to my inner monologue of goodbye.
Of course this leaves questions of how will I write this? Will I address you or me? I suppose this will just flow.
So here I am, and how do I feel?
Well it’s a mix.
I can’t deny an ecstasy at knowing I am going to go home (of course I have started referring to coming back in January as “coming home”). Suddenly I am much freer with my thoughts and feeling about this place. For example I am now able to admit that I hate chipatis (a nasty thick fried tortilla), that I despise hand washing my clothes, and deplore almost everything about living in the bush (i.e. no running water, the heat, and the boredom). I can do this now because it’s okay to hate them because it’s all almost over.
When I had months left it was dangerous to admit how much I hated these things because it would depress me. If I had admitted to myself how hard this was on me and how much I hated so much of it I would have been crushed under the depression of months more to go. but now with only hours left I can breathe a sigh of relief and admit that my skin is a mess, my hair looks awful, I desperately need a manicure and miss wearing stilettos more then anything because it’s not for too much longer. I get to go home now.
On the other hand it has also brought into sharp focus all the reasons I have stayed. There is more love here then I have felt in a long time. I am near tears thinking about days (MONTHS) without the family I have here.
Today I learned to make Mandazi (kind of like a fried African doughnut) with Mama Michelle. We laughed and discussed church and played with Michelle and I was given (even more) dating advice as we mixed the dough and suddenly I wanted to sob as I felt a rush of love for this place.
It’s the same washing over feeling I get when I eat at the Father’s house or watch Madame Grace make Ugali (because she will never let me help). And it is a stronger force then I could have expected.
But it’s more then the people. It’s the smell of the air that always has the scent of cut grass and nature. It’s the sky that I swear to God is bluer then any sky I have ever seen in the states. It’s the fact that here I can see more stars then I knew existed.
A part of me dreads going back to the states where it will be loud and aggressive (and cold!). I can’t imagine going to a grocery store in the states and just putting things in a cart and leaving. Not seeing each particular woman I buy each particular different vegetable from and not calling her “mama”.
It also exhausts me because I know the work is no where near over. Being here sometimes it seems like the point was just to identify the projects. There is still so much money to rise, so much to do, only $3,000 has been raised and I want $10,000 by the end of the year more then anything.
This train of thought always brings me to the dark part of my mind that thinks I am a failure (compounded by the fact that I am wimping out and leaving early. Noticed I think elliptically?). I am honestly disappointed with myself that I wasn’t able to get to $5,000 before I left and that I have spent my last days here lying in a bed wishing for the sweet release of death.
But I will raise the money. I don’t know how ling it will take, but I will.
So I guess now it is time to start thinking about my life after this. What’s next for me?
I suppose next is university in Nairobi. But my oh my can you imagine what that will be like?
But the most nagging question is who am I now?
I thought that would be clear after six months here (god knows why) like this experience would mature me to a point where I knew exactly who I was and what I wanted; like my life would stretch out in front of me in a long highway instead of a series of corners I can’t see around.
Rather then looming in front my life is now on a blind curve. But I like it this way.
I don’t know who I am- although I have learned some things about myself- and I definitely don’t think I am an adult now.
But this decimation of who I thought I was and the lack of format for who I am now are good. Now I have a bunch of raw materials to piece together and make myself. I have time to learn and change and experiment.
I think that we’re all kind of like puzzles and the problem with most people (myself included) is that we more often then not don’t want to put the work in to discover who we are and what we really want. Rather then finding pieces that fit we find pieces that look close enough and try to force it all together, like a child trying to force puzzle pieces together. The problem is we usually break the piece and then get upset. Few people want to put the work in to figure it all out. Or else we might concentrate on one part of the puzzle and forget to look at the big picture. We get one part together perfectly but forget to put the rest together so we end up with empty spaces.
But as I sit here and write this I think that maybe the puzzle will put itself together, smoothly the way it’s supposed to be, if we just let it. If I walk away from the table and forget about the puzzle I’ll still be a person right? It’ll get put together and I’ll have room to surprise myself. Perhaps trying to figure yourself out all the time forces you into a box of who you think you should be not who you are and causes even more frustration (I guess that’s trying to force the wrong piece in).
So instead of figuring out who I am I’m going to work on figuring out the world (as best I can).
So here we are with a girl who doesn’t know herself (and isn’t sure she really wants to), bounces between self-respect and self-loathing, and is not at a crossroads so much as in the middle of the spaghetti bowl (that’s what my father calls the loop when all the roads intertwine together). All the paths lead somewhere and run over each other but they are hard to distinguish.
So although I sort of know where I am going (USIU!) I’m not sure how that’ll look or if it will work out.
This has also taught me that sometimes you simply can’t do something. Sometimes you bite of a piece too big for you and you can’t finish (just yet) and that there is no shame in that. I might not last very long at USIU. I might miss home too much, or decide I want to live in a place that only speaks English, or it might just not be the right fit but my oh my isn’t it exciting to try?
That’s really the best part. Knowing you tried something crazy and scary and hard and insane. Knowing that you did something most people wouldn’t do in a million years. Succeeding is a nice added bonus but knowing you have the guts to have tried is really the best part.
That’s what I hope everyone reading this can get one day. I’m not saying you should all move yourself across the world to someplace you don’t know anyone (of course it is fun) but I am saying that doing something you’ve always wanted to do but thought you were too (and excuse my French) chicken shit to try is an amazing feeling.
It’s beyond self-expression, it’s beyond adventure; it’s allowing yourself to be yourself. It’s giving yourself permission to live beyond what you only thought was your capacity and saying it’ ok to fail because the ride down is great.
I guess I’m sort of rambling now.
The thing is I am suddenly overcome with excitement. I suddenly can’t wait to go home and see friends and live life there and then come back and see friends and see what happens here. It’s like that feeling in the pit of your stomach you get at the top of a roller coaster right before it goes down.
Anyway I think that this blog is going to stop for awhile. I might right one and what it’s like to be home and how things differ but I’m not sure. I don’t know what’s going to happen to it. Do you guys think I should keep writing in it?
I suppose, like all other things, we shall see.
Anyway love to all. State side on Wednesday (flight leaves on Tuesday)