December 28, 2011

Slow Days

Currently Watching: Jorge and Alexa at it again. So presh. (Thanks, Hope!)
Line Love: “The airport officials wave their guns at me, casually hostile, as we climb off the stale-breath, flooding-toilet-smelling plane into Africa’s hot embrace, and I grin happily...The incongruous, lawless, joyful, violent, upside-down, illogical certainty of Africa comes at me like a rolling rainstorm, until I am drenched with relief.” (from Let's Don't Go to the Dogs Tonight, by Alexandra Fuller)

I don’t know if I have every fully explained it to you all, but I think you probably have gathered that even though it is Kenya that I return to now, Ethiopia is my home. After I graduated from high school, we all dispersed – me to America for college (where my sister already was), and my parents to here, to Nairobi. Anyone who’s family has ever moved after they left home will understand that it is a strange thing, going to the new place, because even though you may like it well enough and even though it is where your family is, it is not a familiar place, and it is not a chance to see all your old friends and return to your old way of life; it is all new. Of course, I’ve been to Kenya several times now, and I like it. I’m grateful to be able to return to the familiar grit of Africa. But the thing is I don’t have friends here, or old high school haunts to visit, or people to do that with. Especially this year, I don’t have a sister to matatu and adventure with. So it’s a slow break, with slow days.

It’s a strange balance: grateful to be in Kenya, that this is the place I get to come for Christmas break, but a little sad at the same time about just how far I am from places and people (apart from my parents) I consider home.

All that being said, it does make you appreciate the simple things that make up a good day here (ie. a day where I am not sitting in the house by myself). And today was like that: I went shopping with my mom, our neighbor Mrs. Mercer, and her friend Allison to a shop with a collection of handcrafted goods from various NGOs (where I bought things for myself and things for others), then lunch at Java House (home of my favorite Malindi Macchiato). Of course, with Nairobi’s expanse and maniacal traffic, the whole outing was a few hours. Then home for a little bit of Modern Family, internet browsing (sitting outside where the connection is best, but wearing sweatpants and a fleece thanks to the oddly prolonged rains…where am I again? Oh yes, a country through which the equator runs. Obviously.), reading and whatnot. And then our neighbors, the Gibsons, came for a cookout dinner and stayed to chat long afterwards. And it was all quite lovely.

(So. I guess this turned into a rather long explanation as to why I don’t have constant Kenyan adventures to share with you, but really I just wanted to show a little more about the realities of having a family overseas, the way it’s not always glamorous and exciting but with the same ordinariness of any other home. If that makes sense. Does that make sense?)

[both pictures above are of our house here -- the garden and table where I sit and go online (although this picture was taken at a less dreary time), and then the gate to our house that we have to jump out of the car and open by hand each time we drive up.]

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