If the days come when you discover I have moved to Africa, remember this: I know it's bad. Today, I think there is more bad than good in the continent and it's only worsening. In the last few months I've read several books about personal lives in Africa with a few entertaining ones in between to lessen the severe cut on the psyche inflicted from the others. But I've never seen it bad in Tanzania. In the seven months I've spent there over the course of three years, there's very little to pull out that has anything to do with the disease and terror that goes on. So I don't really know first hand. It's not broken my heart.
Sometimes I read blogs and memoirs and hear stories and think, "I cannot relate to that life at all. Even the worst it's been for me is really not that bad. How do people live lives like that? Why do they continue?"
But I've heard enough to know that there are far superior places to live.
New Zealand is a safe, beautiful country I'd be happy to have the privilege of living in again. I love Italians and the land there. Spain might be worse than broke but it boasts an ancient pink light that spreads over the old dusty paths that traverse miles and miles of naked, sorrowful land that remains hopeful in the morning light. The U.S. has so many problems that a lot of Americans are blind to but it's not the worst. There's a justice system and checks and balances. Careful voting processes. Aid. Loans. Money with value. Cheaper gas than the rest of the world. Fast food and bean burritos. It's not so bad here.
I know of really decent places to live but some nights, to be honest, I drive home at that time of day- dusk, when the sun is just disappearing and the shadow trees stretch far across the spilt gold wheat fields on a green landscape and look for the little dirt driveway and house on the hill that reminds me of houses in Tanzania. And my toes involuntarily curl up into the callused pads of my bare feet and my mind catches up that that little dirt road is something my heart responds to and feels an inexplicable kinship with. Only people who've decided to live there despite everything can maybe understand what I'm talking about. I think everyone has their own land in their hearts the body's driven to find. Some spend a lifetime searching for it and many times if they're lucky enough to find it, they allow too many things to stand in their way. A heart can waste away with ache and bitterness beating with that knowledge of separation.
So someday, if I make the move, just know I've sought out and not shied from the horrible that goes on in this world. That I'm aware when I close my eyes the problems don't go away and cease. It's only by bucking up and asking for the knowledge that one becomes aware of what's actually going on. Sometimes it's brutal. Then it becomes reality. Then you know what you're up against and how much it's worth it to you. If it is worth it.
I'm naive. I can tell people from Africa (and everywhere else I've been come to think of it) think I am when they hear I consider moving there. It's not untrue but not totally true either. I don't have some rosy single Christian girl idea that I'll keep my fancy American life and go visit the orphanages and play with kids in between a career. No delusions of grandeur that I can cure people and save the poor people. Helen Keller said,
Life is either a great adventure or nothing. And everyone finds adventure in different places. I only suggest you look for yours and if you find it, be courageous enough- yes, courageous by definition- to tackle the challenge. I'm not sure what my future holds, but after seeing some particularly gruesome images and reading pages that had me losing faith that good exists in people, I felt compelled to write it out. Maybe I'll suddenly fall in love, get married, have twelve kids, drive a minivan and decide cooking and sewing is the life for me. I'll go to bed at eight, domestic as a plate.
OR, as Carrie said on Sex and the City, "Maybe some women aren't meant to be tamed. Maybe they need to run free until they find someone just as wild to run with."But seriously, if the man doesn't wear Lynx Africa deodorant, we have a serious problem. Not because ooooh it's Africa, but because Lynx's Africa smells so damn good. It could be Lynx Brazil for all I care. Just layin' down the law for any hopefuls out there.
Here's the books I've read recently that have to do with Africa:
Kisses from Katie, Katie Davis. Read in October 2011.
Another Man's War, Sam Childers. Read in November- December 2011.
Morality for Beautiful Girls, Alexander McCall Smith. Read December 2011.
Whatever You Do, Don't Run, Peter Allison. Read in January 2011.
The Kalahari Typing School for Men, Alexander McCall Smith. Read in December 2011.
A Long Way Gone; Memoirs of a Child Solider, Ishmael Beah. Read March 2012.
Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Read in April 2012.
The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, Alexander McCall Smith. Read in April 2012.
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller. Read in April-May 2012.
When a Crocodile Eats the Sun, Peter Godwin. Currently reading May- June 2012.