April 21, 2015
Home. I’ve been back a little over a month and I’m still full of awe and gratitude. Friends invited me to stay with them, and helped me through the first phases of transition – incoherence, interrupted circadian rhythms resulting in odd sleeping and eating habits, difficulty focusing, feeling overwhelmed by the smallest things. Lynda and Bill were great – using humor and patience to help me adjust.
I left Swaziland several months early. I left a part of myself there. And I brought a bit of Swaziland home with me - in whatsapp texts and facebook messages and emails with folks there. And much more, I am sure. It has been hard to write, and even now, it’s difficult to know what to say.
Much is still overwhelming – the full grocery store aisles (both sides, floor to ceiling) of breakfast cereals. So much of everything. Libraries that are well-lit and have new books and current reference books. So very many paved roads. Counter space. Remembering how to cook using my own recipe books. Forests and rivers. Spring time, Northwest style. Being connected. Sometimes I have a whatsapp, text message, email message and voice mail – all at the same time – or so it seems. Mindboggling. There’s TV, though I don’t really watch it. Streaming radio.
I visit friends – at their homes. Homes they have lived in for decades, homes they have put their love, hard work, passion, energy and time into making their own. Into expressing their own beauty. And the beauty is bone deep. What a contrast to a third world country, where only the rich have such luxury, and that resides behind walls topped with glass and protected by guards. My friends aren’t “well-to-do” by many standards – but so very rich in the splendor they have created.
People talk of traveling – and all I want to do is nest and stay here. I had all these dreams of going to see friends, maybe a road trip – but all I really want to do is stay in my own space for a while.
I have found a place to live where I open my windows and doors to hear the river, where I have “my things” from storage, a place with treasures from my life. Here, my toiletries are not in bags for the first time in so very long. I have 2, count them, 2 sinks – one in the kitchen, one in the bathroom. No more using a latrine.
And NO ROOSTERS crowing at 3:00 am. And no little kids saying, “Knock, knock. May I have a book?” No Nomile, seeing me and breaking into a run, her arms held wide, knowing I will catch her when she launches herself into my arms. No walking home from school, holding hands with 3 or 4 little kids, skipping and laughing and hustling to the side of the road to avoid traffic. No mangoes off the trees, and no church folks greeting me on their way to and from services. No calf butting Siyabonga, asking for his bottle, and no Liyana running up, purring, to be petted.
No khumbis to town – now I just drive, and oh, I do not miss the crowded busses and khumbis, the long waits, the dust and heat. But I don’t take the car for granted, and I’m much more patient with slow drivers.
I read some of my journal from before I left, and I sense a deep difference, but I don’t know how to describe it. And I am coming to terms with some of the things that were so very difficult for me while living in a culture so very different from my own. Slowly, slowly, I am working towards becoming the me I want to be.
I may start another blog – one of “my kids”, Wandile, is corresponding with me, and continuing to ask difficult questions – the ones that really make me think – and then make him articulate his ideas more clearly. I think, as I absorb and integrate what I have learned, I may want to share ideas in a blog.
For now, I think this one is complete. Thanks for accompanying me on my journey. Salani Kahle.