29 June 2014


You know how you don't think about things for years and then suddenly they pop into your head? 

I just thought about how, when my brother and I were little but old enough to do things like the dishes (so I was maybe 8 or 9 and R. was 5 or 6), my parents would go for a walk in the evening and leave us to do the dishes. I mostly washed, and my brother dried and put away. I suspect that my sister was around there somewhere, toddling about.

The sink in the kitchen in our house in Liberia faced setting sun and the road and, much farther away beyond the trees, the ocean. We would watch to see when our parents came into view again.*

R. and I would sometimes sing as we did the dishes (or possibly I sang and he humored me):

hurry hurry hurry hurry come on the run
hurry hurry hurry hurry day is begun
come along and hurry now there's work to be done
when you are finished there'll be time for fun

alright I come now, alright I come
don't be so worried, my little one
if I should work hard out in the sun
I'll be so tired that I cannot run

Mostly I was singing so that when my parents came within hearing distance they would know how very hard we were working.

Even before we were old enough to do the dishes or be left home alone for half an hour, we used to clear the table. The floor was cement, but that didn't stop us, especially my brother, from piling all five of the Corelle-ware plates on our heads and trying to carry them to the kitchen without our hands.

It's a really good thing that Corelle-ware plates are just about indestructible, is all I have to say about that.

* I feel like I remember, when the war started upcountry, that there was a curfew, and part of my watching for the parents to come into view was hoping that they would beat the curfew. It may have just been the memory of the earlier curfew in 1985, though, combined with knowledge of the problems in Nimba County in 1990.


While writing this, I looked up our old house on google earth, again, and noticed that there is still a path behind the house to the other house that was on the road between the office and the high school. The path no longer cuts from the right side of that house, though. It has moved over the years, as dirt footpaths do, and now it cuts from the left side of the house.

One time, as I was riding my bike on that path home from school, I looked up as I rode under a tree and saw a green mamba lying along the branch I was just going under.

I have even more vivid memories of the other path, from our house to the office, especially the corner by the office:

Trying to push an old bicycle wheel with a stick, only to get it caught somehow and jabbing myself in the stomach.

Jumping over the inevitable ditch between the path and the road next to the office.

The time that the G. family daubed their house with mud and we got to help.

Looking at the scab on my arm that finally taught me which hand was right and which was left.

Watching the clouds and thinking how wonderful it would be if I could just get up onto one and nestle into its softness and tell it where to take me.

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