Now I have been immersed in a world so different from the “normal”, overprivileged world I have lived in for the last 19 years. I’ve noticed that there exists an incredibly thick line between my world and theirs.
These worlds are constantly being physically separated by high walls topped with razor wire and our access to electricity and running water. We are kept isolated to comply to the comfort level we’re used to.
There are other barriers too. How can I relate to someone that has been through this immeasurable hardship, when nothing I’ve been through remotely compares? There’s a wall of no real mutual understanding.
These physical and metaphorical walls are giving me separation anxiety. I want to reach these people, but I’m beginning to doubt that our lives, that are so carefully kept separate, can converge in a way that’s useful at all.
At “Bolonio,” there was a point when I never thought I’d smile again. Here I am a week later, laughing at Aurelia when she throws a banana peel out of the window and hits a pedestrian.
I can come here, go home, and live a life that is successful (see definition 2 on my link) by American standards by never thinking of this place again.
I’m afraid that, when I return, I’m just going to fall back into the normal routine. It will be so easy to block out all of the pleading faces, all of the miracle smiles that emerge from dirt.
The defense mechanism of the human heart is to stick with what feels good and forget the bad. Thinking about these incredibly needy people when I’m in the comfort of my own bed in the U.S. will obviously not feel good.
Thinking of ways to deny that defense mechanism isn’t proving easy.
I’m staying back at the hotel today, rather than going to the source of the Nile, because I’ve gotten pretty sick over the last few days. It’s giving me some more time to think. (Mom, I’m keeping hydrated so don’t worry).
I want to go home and be taken care of by my mom; simultaneously, I don’t want to leave and risk forgetting.
I don’t know if I’d say I’ll “miss” Africa. I’ll hate not having all of these feelings so immediately at bay, and instead having to work to bring them up.
One thing I’ll definitely miss is the kindness of the local people and the feelings that come with having an adventure.