I get on the plane tonight in just a couple hours, to leave Africa until…! Eep! I wrote this a few days ago:
It’s my last week at post, I leave little Dabola in five days. More so than the goodbyes, it’s the return to America that has me mildly intimidated. In the two times that I’ve been back to the States during these last three and a half years, it’s always just been a quick trip, and then back overseas. But this is it now: the American Big Time. Time to get a big-girl job with a real salary and wear some respectable clothing. And buy a hairbrush! (Yessss, I just use my fingers here.)
I’m nervous as to how people are going to react to me when I can’t stop starting every sentence with, “When I was in Africa…” or the funny looks people will give me when I insist on wearing my African moomoos in public, and am generally clueless about things currently American. And job hunting??! Enough said!
But I’m excited at the same time. Mostly to be close to the comforts of my family and friends, which is the number one reason I am coming home. :)
I’ve found myself extra sentimental these last few days. Little things Guineans say or do just really touch me and break my heart a little. (I know, that’s sappy.) But the idea that I get to go back to big shiny America, where things mostly work the way people say they are going to work, where rampant corruption and extreme poverty are not a daily way of life. So many people here have been kind to me, generous, thoughtful, and funny, even in the face of poverty and a world of inconveniences, and I sometimes wonder what I have done to deserve their kindness and good humor, or how I could thank them. And I’m at a loss. I just hope that one day, in my turn I can be as giving and hospitable to others as Guineans and Cameroonians have been to me.
One last image comes to mind. I was whizzing down the road on my bike earlier today. It’s a road I’ve been down many times, but I’m looking at everything a little harder now, trying to soak it all up and not forget anything. I passed a little boy who was walking from a nearby well, carrying a bucket of water on his head. He was small enough that his arms were completely extended upward to grasp the rim of the bucket. He caught me looking, smiling at him and shyly smiled back and hesitated a moment, making the water splash out of his bucket and all over him, which made us both smile even more. Little moments like that—how easy it can be to connect with someone here, and how incredibly much people appreciate the simplest gestures. I'm not sure I have the capacity to give such joy so easily in the States—that’s what I’ll miss. In fact, I’m already missing it, and I’m not even gone…
4 years ago