Mar 10, 2011

The state of things

Last night while skyping with my sister I told her that I thought blogging was “unnatural.” She told me to blog about it.

I’m not saying I think blogging is unnatural for everyone. There are so many people with interesting things to say, and they say them eloquently, beautifully even. It’s just that blogging isn’t natural to me. Why would you want to listen to me ramble? Who cares?

It’s a funny thing for a writer to say. Who cares? Really, who cares? When I write fiction I love my characters; it is a relief that “I” don’t enter into the equation at all. I must step out of the way; let their stories unfold. At the best moments “I” don’t exist in the process of writing at all. I transcend myself…I feel wholeness. But blogging?

I woke up this morning, thoughts swarming my head like a million bees. I am across the Atlantic in a world so unlike my own. Everything is different, even small things. Like how survival seems to be in your own hands. Cars do not stop for pedestrians—they do not slow down when someone crosses the street; they don’t even swerve to avoid them. When I teeter on the edge of a busy road, inches from traffic, and a man or woman is walking in the other direction, do we pass each other on the right or the left? Neither. Every time I meet someone on the road like this they will stay strong on their path, doing whatever it takes to keep the safest course. Often that means forcing me into the road or the ditch. Few people spend their days inside on computers; they are outside, sitting in the sun or shade greeting people. They greet people on the street. They light fires with small bits of paper and cook their lunch inches from traffic passing by. Maggie is expected to greet elders here: to say hi, how are you? She is only two years old. Things are different; that is not to say better or worse. Different.

And it isn’t a gift to be stolen from your world for a time? To see it as I do, from a distance, across a large ocean? I have been reading “That Thing Around Your Neck,” a wonderful collection of stories by Nigerion author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her observations about the gap between American culture and the African characters in her stories have only made my experiences here in Senegal more poignant.

All I want (I am a pregnant lady, more than halfway until new baby) is to make a home. To unpack. To cook food that is familiar. To garden. To go the farmer’s market. To be with friends and family. But I hope that I can take this with me when I return home…remember how fortunate I am. Remember how happy people in Senegal seem to be with so few material things.

The truth? Some days here are very hard. Some days are ok. I wake up each morning and I can honestly say I look forward to seeing my daughter. I hear that little voice and her excitement that it is day. I want to get up and see her. It’s pretty awesome being a mom. The state of things? Pretty darn good.


  1. You are so wonderful. Please keep blogging, because I love to hear the thoughts that sift through your mind and come out so beautifully onto the page.

    I am excited for our trip because I am hoping for something of what you are describing, the chance to step outside of the things that become routine to us and therefore tend to lose the transparency and aliveness that moments in a completely new experience have. And I'm so excited to see you and scoop that maggie up and kiss her. or just listen to an excitedly told story. about st nicholas.
    love you!

  2. I love you. ...And your whole family and the new as of yet un-arrivals. Hold on to the brightness that is maggie, that is love, that is your whole breath.