Monday, July 10, 2006

Maangi ci Amerik -- I'm home.

"It's so green," the first words out of my mouth breathed to Israel, the Nigerian sitting next to me, as we touched down in Minneapolis. He'd watched my fidgety attempts to maintain conversation since we left JFK and smiled knowing what it's like to leave a place so different and come home after so long.

I'm backing into my third week being home. I'm slowly leaving one life for another and letting go of what I don't need to be here. More than anything I feel dizzy with the effort of switching between different realities. What was true there isn't here. What came hard there is easy here, but yet somehow infinitely more complicated. But I'm here maangi fii rekk alhumdulilah. I was having trouble with color for awhile and went to the greenhouse the other day and found comfort in the vibrant garden flowers. The green here is brillant. So much rain has left this area amass in dark green trees and grass. But my eyes keep
seeking the bright African tissu and coming up with lots of pale. I feasted on a pair of my brother's sunglasses with orange lens and I felt I'd made up for some of the lost color.

But really when it comes down to it the things that I expected to marvel at, I'm not, and the things I expected to be easy, are hard. I walked into Wal-Mart without a whole lot of fanfare. I've heard of people coming back from Africa and standing startled in an aisle trying to fathom so many choices. But for some reason I didn't have that experience. It's America. We are the land of where that's all we do is choose. What's harder is knowing how to be with people. It's so easy to slip into old roles, but breaking out of them is a challenge. It's hard feeling like I left pieces of me in Senegal, parts of me I never draw on being here. And just the transition from leaving one life behind and trying to start a new one -- now I'm on to the The Next Step but where do I go from here?

In the meantime, just trying to take pleasure in the small things, which is what brought me around to loving Senegal, and I know it can work for being home. I spent the weekend by the lake with my family kayaking, roasting marshmallows, sitting in lawn chairs, taking four-wheeler rides in the country, getting tipsy on beer, watching fireworks, and trying trying to take in the quiet of South Dakota. There were moments in Dakar where I would have given anything for a weekend of South Dakota solitude and now that it's here it's my inside that can't keep still.

Finding color.

Riding my brother's Harley.

South Dakota skies. This is enough to ground me, at least for a moment.


At 12/7/06 19:30, Blogger David Seruyange said...

Glad to have you within striking distance, cher. I hope the transition, like most uncomfortable growth experiences, becomes a part of you that you look back to for lessons.

At 8/8/06 16:13, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday!!

Guess who?

At 26/8/06 01:25, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michelle -

So, what's next????? Don't leave us hanging after we've been on this incredible journey with you!

At 15/5/07 06:56, Anonymous A.G. said...

Michelle -

Glad you're back in the good ole USA! Well, a word of advice. It'll take you a while to figure out what you want to be when you grow up, so have fun in the meantime! (I'm still trying to figure that out myself.) At least you still have J. He told me and three others in Feb that you and him were still an item as of Jan good luck with that. I can't think of two people who deserve each other more! Take care and call me sometime. A.G.


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