04 March 2008

two completely unrelated topics

I've lived about 12.5 years of my life in Michigan. (Compare to Africa: about 13 years.) So I'm not exactly new to this place. I do not seem to have learned much in 12.5 years here, though. Yesterday, for example, I went for a nice bike ride. In 35 degree weather. With bad gloves. And no hat.

By the time I came back inside, there were shooting pains through my ears into my head. I paced around for five minutes, waving my hands over my ears, unable to sit or think for the pain. I can still feel the reverberations of it today.

Smart, very smart. Twelve.5 years of utterly wasted experience.


After writing about how Ethiopia is a VACATION ONLY, I started thinking about the concept. Here in Michigan, it's mostly going to a lake to swim/fish/boat or driving somewhere new. Sometimes even a flight to a beach somewhere. And it's weird to think that for me, going to Ethiopia is approximately equivalent to that. Not exactly, because I can go to a cottage on a lake in Michigan, too, but it isn't so far away that I can't fathom it. Clearly I can, because I'm going.

I was talking to a friend the other day about this phrase that people have said to me several times since I first moved to Rwanda. It goes like this, "It's so wonderful that you've made that sacrifice to go and help those poor people in Africa." If you have said this to someone before, don't feel bad (although please don't use the words "those people," ever, because people are people and that phrase is so divisive and belittling), it's just that... I love being in Africa. It's not a sacrifice. I am just living where I love to live. And I'm not doing much, if anything. I'm doing exactly what I do here in the US: working and living and doing the best I can. I don't think I can "save" Africa, and I'm not even sure what such "saving" would look like and it wouldn't come from some white girl from Michigan. All I know is that, in many ways, going to Africa is as much of a homecoming for me as landing in Michigan, except that there's no family waiting to meet me. I don't need a reason to go. The bigger problem is that I can't stay away.

1 comment:

sylvia/ticklethepear said...

there's no family waiting to meet me.

Well, no family by blood perhaps, but surely family by association?