Ok, so this week I’m not sure I’m sticking to the promise of themed reminiscing…anyway you decide!
Tears welled up in my eyes as I sat down to dinner with my sister on Wednesday night. We were celebrating my birthday early, but I didn’t feel like celebrating. I was moving again. I am forever leaving friends and family behind. It also felt like the tears from Ghana were finally catching up to me. (I refused to cry when I left). As she sat smiling across from me, all I could think of was the fact that I was moving away from her. Again. It’s true what Grandmother said: even if you never see someone, just knowing they are there, close by, and you could get together whenever, is of some comfort. (That’s what she said when I told her I was returning to the US). I feel like the woman in Chocolat who was always moving whenever the North Wind came calling for her. Although this time I feel it’s more of a calculated move. I feel I have lots of things to accomplish this year knowing the things I know now.
I enjoyed my one month vacation mostly spent in Ohio with my mom and sisters, with a week-long excursion to Kalamazoo, MI to see one of my closest friends. But now it’s time to do that ‘Something’ this year. Like publish that memoir! Of course I had moments when I felt like moving permanently into my mother’s house and going to find some job right there in Columbus…it didn’t matter the kind of job…and just vegging out. It’s real easy to just exist, but I think it takes more effort o actually become more than a mere existence. I would probably get frustrated very quickly if were to just exist anyway. These moments haven’t lasted very long, thankfully. I’ve come to my senses rather quickly, shaken off the thought and quickly regrouped. I knew that I couldn’t stay in Ohio for a few reasons but sometimes it felt comforting to think of it. I knew I needed to return to the Bay at all costs.
It was a difficult holiday psychologically because I had to watch all the housing situations I searched for, fall through, and that made me a bit nervous about returning to the Bay. But I just had to trust that the Bay was where I needed to be and something would work out. I’ve gotten lots of assurances of couches and beds but I know what it takes for me to share space with folks I already know so I’ve been hesitant to accept any of them long-term. I’ve felt like perhaps I was being too picky, but I know that my sanity is very important to me and as such it must be thoroughly considered above all else in every situation. I trust that the universe will work something out.
In all this searching, I’ve noticed that I miss my students very much and I find myself reaching out to my colleagues in Ghana and requesting a play-by-play of their days. At first I attempted to follow the school’s hours trying to stay awake till when they arrived in school so I didn’t miss anything. I’ve let go of that. What surprises me is that I didn’t think I was so invested. But I should have known. The job defined me for 133 days. I loved it, hated it. I cried. I laughed. Some of the students challenged me. Some frustrated me, especially when they wrote atrocious essays, but almost all of them loved me and I, them, and now I miss our daily interactions.
I think I am still in transition between being that adult who was in charge of so much, (Ironically enough my boss used to describe me as “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”) and being this adult who is currently in charge of nothing. A friend of mine this weekend said I walk taller now that I’ve returned from the Motherland. I can’t help thinking a big part of it was because of my interactions with everyone the last 6 months. Returning to the motherland as a responsible adult was just what I needed, to perhaps claim my space in society. To stand and be counted. Now the charge is what am I going to do with this newfound height? What will I do this year that will reinforce this and will serve as a thank you to the Motherland and my people? I think beginning with completing that memoir might be just the thing I need to do first! Cooking and Dancing more often might follow close behind. Join me!Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 5 so far )
So I’m doing all the things I imagine celebs doing—shaking hands, nodding yes’s and no’s, thinking up quick answers to various questions ranging from “who inspired this or that story” to “why do you write”—when I glance over and see a group of giggling young women of African descent. Their excited faces give me the excuse I need to politely extricate myself from conversations about why I write in English, or how Ghana manages to remain relatively war-free.
“Hello Ladies!” I say smiling. I think to myself, surely I have arrived; this here, ladies and gentlemen, is why I write.
“We are from Ghana!” the two on my immediate left blurt out unable to hold their excitement any longer.
The others, six or seven in total all wave excitedly and introduce themselves the minute I cease talking. Ghana, Nigeria, Jamaica, Haiti. They are well represented. They all say they were inspired by my panel.
I have just come out of the auditorium where the 10th Annual International Women’s Day Conference had been held. My continent-sisters, Pauline Dongala, Nathalie Etoke, Tayo Jolaosho, and I were on a panel together speaking on how women writing resistance rights the world’s wrongs ((I love how catchy that is!). The panel was moderated by Anne Serafin whom I had met along with Jennifer Browdy Hernandez, the conference convener, at ASA 2010 in San Francisco
“Are you students?” I ask referring to Bard College.
“Yes we are students, but not here,” one responded.
“Oh. Ok. Which school are you at? I asked.
“MCLA!”, several chorused.
It was my first time in the Berkshires region and so I was not aware there was anything else outside of the college. Testament to this, the day before I was lost within a five mile radius of the college and didn’t find it until I followed a couple who stopped to answer my intermittent blinking lights and wildly waving left arm.
“I want to write.” one said to me.
“Great! I love to talk about writing.” I said, handing out business cards. I give them a spiel I have only heard once in my entire networking career, mind you it’s not a long one, but…
“Now ladies, I mean for you to USE these cards. I am not one of those people who just hand out cards and never really mean for you to call or email them. Please get in touch!”
A book is thrust at me by one of our editors who gently reminds me that we are supposed to be signing books at the author’s table. I smile, sign it and turn to the ladies.
“We’ve got to be going; the van is waiting.” one of the ladies prompts.
“Thank you for speaking up.” one says.
“No thank you ladies for stopping to say hello,” I say flashing my broadest smile yet.
“Please remember to write and stay in touch.” I say as we exchange hugs.
“Kuukua, you have other fans.” my sister editor says as she thrusts another one of our books into my hand, marking the page with a pen.
“Goodbye ladies.” I tear myself away wistfully. I am growing sentimental.
“They are from the motherland.” I say proudly, grinning even more broadly.