Tuesday, June 5, 2012

In Between Home and Home

This is one of the last African sunsets we'll see for a while...taken just last week. How can it be that last week we were in Africa? I'm back with the same four walls around me that have been our home for the past five years and yet it feels so unfamiliar and strange. I told Jason this morning that I feel like we have to move back into our house in a different way. The furniture feels all wrong in its same old spot. I feel like everything should have shifted the way that our lives have. The boys went back to school yesterday and while they were excited and happy to see all their friends, when we asked them about their day, they both said that they felt like no one really asked too much about their trip. Easton and I went to Indigo just to wander around in one of our old haunts and as we did, he commented that one of the things I'd said about coming back was true, that everyone just wants a quick answer about how the trip was. We talked a bit about how we'd experienced so much in the four months but that for those who have been here, time has just gone by the way it normally does. I told him that as time goes on over the next days and weeks, he will have chances to tell his stories and share bits and pieces. It's a story that took four months to experience and will probably take months to share fully. I know I may have mentioned it before but I think my kids are pretty cool. I love the new confidence and happiness that Easton has found in learning about others and himself. I love how Aidan just nonchalantly walks back into a classroom and the lives of his friends, heading over to Joel's after school to hang out with Joel and Jan, as if no time has passed between them. Today, I'm thankful for the fact that we didn't sell the house. While it's strange to be back in the four walls, at least we have four walls. Weeding the yard, walking the dog and unpacking boxes has given my hands something to do while my mind races all over the place, between Sekubva and Stepney Cr. and everywhere in between. I can't slow my mind down, I have to let it run its course. In the meantime, I try to write down the things that need to be done so that I can find my way back into life here. There's nothing here that is so far removed from Africa that it doesn't bring moments and people back in the time it takes my mind to connect the dots. Checking the oil in our Ford brings me to a middle of the night journey to Zambia, waking Nede from where she slept on the engine compartment of an overcrowded van full of Zimbabweans, to add oil as the engine light flashed red on the dashboard. Pulling weeds puts me in a community garden in Mulenga alongside care workers that I love. Turning on the windshield wipers instead of the signal lights puts me back on the roads anywhere in Africa, driving on the left and passing on whichever side affords the best route. A small Nigerian boy waving to me from his shopping cart seat in Superstore brings me to tears and as I chat with him and his mom, he holds my finger and I'm right back in any community with small black fingers curled around mine. I linger in the imported food aisle staring at bags of corn meal and rice that would provide a care point food for kids for months and I think of Elizabeth stirring, stirring, always stirring...cooking for a hundred kids in Mulenga over the fire outside her home, with Nkosi on the arm of whichever child is closest to guide him sightlessly around. I know that time and work and life are going to calm my racing mind and soothe my aching heart but for now, I'll let them race and ache and long and remember. I'm going to poke around my memories to keep that ache fresh and not let it heal seamlessly. I am praying for a scar or a limp that will set me apart for those we've seen and served and walked alongside, one that people will see and ask, "What happened to you?" so that I can speak of how I've been broken and what it has meant in my life.


Brooke said...

You make me cry. I know how you feel, but I can't say it like you can. Thanks for sharing this.

Jason, Shelly, Aidan and Easton said...

You do know how I feel. You've been on my mind a lot these past weeks as we've prepared to come home.
I'm so glad we were able to have a bit of time together while we were in Zambia.
Love to you and Jed, Shelly