Pizza

I became an adult when I entered the Peace Corps. By that I mean that I ate a whole pizza in a hotel room all by myself.

Let me rewind a bit.

The day before I set off to Zambia, I flew to Philadelphia to meet with the group of volunteers I would be learning, living, and pooping pants with. After a restless night of me staring at the ceiling wondering if I was making the right choice and generally just panicking, I woke up at an ungodly hour in the morning. Let’s just say that that morning I had all of the affability of Lord Voldemort.

I showered and put my pencil skirt and blue button-down on, going through the motions and trying to shove my emotions into a small brown parcel that I would then send off to some unsuspecting stranger who would open it to his or her own doom. I became the emotional uni-bomber.

There were a solid few minutes of panic sweating which drove me to un-tuck my blue button-down blouse from my skirt and which drove my parents into turning the air-conditioning on (a rarity in my household) and which drove everyone into thinking “Rachel is going a bit crazy, but not in the cute, quirky way. More like the ‘Quick! Someone check her closet for bodies’ way”.

My suitcase was too heavy. So heavy in fact that I broke the handle off of it because of its weight. When my dad asked if I needed help getting the green, slightly broken leviathan down the stairs, I told him that I could handle it. And by handle it I mean I pushed it down the stairs (See above, affability of he-shall-not-be-named).

There were the tearful goodbyes to my family, my dogs, and my small hometown. I cried the entire flight until I reached Atlanta for a brief layover. I prayed that no one would flag down the flight attendants and alert them to a slobbering weirdo crying into the window during the flight in between sobs. I’m grateful that no one did. But then again, it probably would be understandable if they did as I was the emotional uni-bomber and Lord Voldemort.

In Atlanta, I felt much better. My blouse was still untucked and my bangs were plastered to my forehead from an unfortunate mixture of panic sweat and window sobbing. In fact, I felt so much better that I decided that I would find myself a Chik-Fil-A and buy myself a lunch.

But that would have been far too simple.

I walked with a group of other travelers. We were swimming up stream like salmon, all set on our destination. It took a while for my fishy little brain to figure out that something was not right. The airport was not allowing travelers past a certain point. We were stuck. Yet, more and more plans dumped off their salmon who would swim up stream just to meet grumpy, hangry, salmon travelers. Like myself. Apparently there was an explosion somewhere in the airport that had caused a power failure.

But that’s not what caused me to start panic sweating yet again.

What caused me to start panic sweating was the realization that the food court that so brightly shined in the airport was no longer serving food because of the power outage. What was I going to do? I needed french fries in the shape of a Cartesian grid. It was my American, salmon traveler, almost Peace Corps volunteer right! I looked around at my fellow salmon travelers and they did not share my same uproar. They were focused on getting to their next terminal or something and panicking because they may be late to a casserole dinner in Ohio with their family or something.

Priorities, people.

In the end, I made to my conference about 2 hours late.

I dropped the green leviathan upon entering the conference room on accident.

I flopped onto a soft, hotel bed.

I ordered a pizza.

I ate the pizza.

I fell asleep.

Welcome to adulthood. It’s greasy and makes you feel a bit bloated 98% of the time.

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Building Blocks

Today I bought all new underwear.

As I left Zambia to return to my homeland, I burned the underwear that I brought with me in order to save room for treasures and because it was time for us to part.

I stooped over bins filled with lovely panties, searching for the right color and size and shape in order to rebuild what I burned. These piles of fine clothes brought me back to the days when, under the hot African sun, I would dig through the piles of clothes on the sides of the road in order to find a new-used blouse or skirt.

Each time I blinked I could see myself in both worlds. In one, I was hot, uncomfortable, and my feet were dusted in red dirt that never seemed to leave my body. In the other, I was in air conditioning, standing, touching newly made garments, and incredibly clean.

I am in love with each of these worlds. And while I zoned out missing countless of panties that I would have been overjoyed to have found, I am so grateful that little hidden gateways into the world that I was once a part of can bring me back to the place that I so recently called home.

I know that I will have to rebuild my world here. It will be a process, with ups and downs like anything.

But, panties are a good way to begin.

Take My Hand

Take my hand. 

It is outstretched towards you, the alabaster skin shows no heavy burdens, past wounds, or present trials. It has been clothed in the invisible glove of privilege with its impregnable protection against any and all maledictions. It remains suspended, but purposefully so. Never faltering.

Take my hand.

I see your weariness, your plight, your pain, even if you did not expect to share it. Dear friend, it is hung around your neck like that of a weighty advertisement and with each passing moment of ignoring it, your neck becomes weaker and giving up seems like a merciful act.

Take my hand.

If for no other reason than to rest but a breath’s moment. A restful heartbeat in the day your are striving to make it through.

Take my hand.

Will I know the depths of your sorrows through our contact? Will I see the eyes of the demons that float over your person, unrelenting? Will your dark secrets pour out like that of a freshly made wound? No, my dear friend and stranger. When our hands touch there suspended in the medium between both of our bodies a current so mighty will race up our arms, flourish at our elbows’ crevice and dance its way into our chests. We will see it happen when we lock eyes, for it emits a glow that cannot be ignored.

Take my hand.

When we release and again are confined to the solitude of two people who are no longer embracing, you will find that something is different. It is a weight; the source of which is one that you cannot identify. You pat your pockets in search of trinket or treasure, but find nothing quite so tangible. But still, there is something different.

Take my hand.

I offer it to you because it is the surest and the most direct way to give you a piece of my heart. To let you know that I see you, the value of your beautiful soul, the very core of you. And when you pivot to continue on your journey through the hot sun, you do not look behind you. Rather, you remain walking. Walking away with what the world tries so very hard to capture indefinitely, but alights the moment we turn our back from its cage: love.

So take my hand and take my heart.

Smile Gently

The morning was ordinary, bright beams of sunshine burst across the sky and the heat was strong and confident. In the early morning hours I walked through my village greeting the passersby and eager children. With my plastic barrels strapped on my bicycle, my destination was the water pump. I followed the winding footpath inhaling and imbibing the wonders of the world that are still so mysterious to me.

I waited my turn in using the water pump and sat on the edge of the brick wall, listening to the women at the pump talking about their lives in a tongue that is still so foreign to my ears. Not long after I sat down, a small girl started to cry. She was clothed in a dirty dress that was sprinkled with holes and rips. Her wails washed away the red dust that was stuck to her cheeks. Her cries were desperate and I could nearly feel the hurt that palpitated from each breath she exhaled.

Every second that passed by seemed to fill my heart with a weight. The little girl’s cries were not consoled. Her nose was not wiped with tenderness. She was not even glanced at. With timidity I stood and nervously bit my lip. I took a tentative step towards her. I offered her my hand and softly told her “bwerani” or “please come” and led her sniffling back to the place where I was perched enjoying my blessed morning. For a moment the village melted away, the women’s loud talking was quieted, and the sun was not so very hot anymore. It was just me and her. I smiled gently and said, “khalani apa” or “sit here” and patted my lap. She wiped her tears from her eyes with the back of her hand and sat on my legs that were hidden under a village apron.

Her tears stopped.

Her hiccuping subsided.

She was comforted finally from whatever darkness that haunted her.

There are times when I had felt like a dirty child crying at the water pump with no one there to reach out to me. She and I are the same even though we are worlds apart in our lives. There will be moments of breaking down, moments of pain, and moments hardly inculpable. But faith, that beautiful beacon that lights so many darknesses and eradicates the ghouls that haunt them, is found in everything and everyone.

Even in yourself.

The Liebster Award

 Thanks to my friend at Picture This My Way, It’s Hard to Dance has been nominated for the Liebster Award. I am so touched by this and so very grateful to have the readers that I do have. If there is anything that I do know for certain is that writing is a way of linking- my linking letters together to make words, words together to make sentences, and sentences together to make stories also links people, ideas, hearts, minds, and souls.

 

liebster award

 

1. What made you start blogging?

I started out as a food blogger. I loved looking at different recipes and altering them. I started this blog because I needed to. It was that feeling of “if I don’t write these things down right now then I am going to implode”. Always listen to that feeling. Always.

2. What’s been your greatest challenge on your blog so far?

The greatest challenge that I face is editing myself. I always erase after writing something. I do it because I usually don’t think that my readers or that I will like what I read when I get to the computer late at night wanting to read something lovely before bed. Now, however, my greatest challenge is finding a computer and internet access while living in Sub-Saharan Africa.

3. Who is your greatest influence?

My Mama. Hands down.

4. What do you love to do in your spare time?

I love to journal. I also love to cook- African style.

5. What big ticket item is on your wishlist right now?

Making a miracle.

6. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?

I really am set on seeing all seven continents. I’ve made it to three so far, and that is nearly halfway.

7. What is something you’re proud of creating/making/doing recently?

I have just moved into my first house- a thatch roof hut. I have been working on making it feel cozy and welcoming. I have a wall of pictures that I just adore.

8. Name one thing you couldn’t live a day without.

Hope.

9. What music are you listening to right now?

Right now, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. But, that is only because the person next to me is playing it. I really am enjoying the new Vampire Weekend album. I love “Diane Young”.

10. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I see myself settling into my new home in America and becoming a teacher.

11. Tell me a surprising fact about yourself.

I never cross off a day on the calendar before that day is actually done.  It makes me feel like I am ending the day too abruptly.