I think a lot.
(Disclaimer: sarcasm-heavy post…not that all my posts aren’t.)
- While taking a refreshing bucket bath, I realized what sick satisfaction I got from watching the red dirt that was caked onto my body from the dusty roads of Hoima slowly slide down the drain. Since I started language and cultural training in Hoima, all my standards of beauty have gone out the window. I don’t wear makeup anymore since it’s so hot that my face feels like it’s melting half the time. It is also dusty as hell. The dirt is literally like flour. Red flour. Everywhere. If this city sold souvenirs, it would be dust globes. Now that I think about it, the dust could actually double as a bronzer since there’s a nice coat of it on my body as the day progresses. Hoima is also incredibly hilly so it feels like I’m hiking all the time. I never knew I could sweat so much until I got here. It’s growing on me slowly (literally…ha…ha…) but I am so happy that I only have a couple more weeks left here!*
- On my morning walk to language class, I was going through the usual Ugandan ritual of greeting everyone I pass by** and it hit me how much I absolutely enjoy greeting Ugandans in their language. They break out in a huge smile and instantly take on a friendlier attitude towards me. A major reason for this drastic change in demeanor is that they usually associate foreigners with being tourists so when I speak the language (or attempt to….), it’s a nice surprise. It’s like saying “I’m here to stay and I respect your culture.” This also made me think of how harshly Americans would respond if the roles were reversed. In most cases, a “foreigner” attempting to speak English in the states would be met with irritation, not acceptance.
- Scene: Me – Happily playing with a baby/comforting a small child. Onlookers – “Tahrima, you would make such a good mother” or “Tahrima, I can totally see you as a mom.” Me – Feelings of happiness and warmth at the compliment followed by a moment of shock and intense panic. REPEAT FOREVER.
I could never put my finger on why I felt that moment of panic until now. And it’s not something rational like the fact that being a parent means being responsible for a little human being (with a heartbeat!!!) or that a casual onlooker just judged my parenting ability by the fact that I was speaking in 4 octaves higher than my regular voice and making sounds/faces that no normal person should make. Obviously, that would make too much sense. I panic after that comment (and it’s been the same across continents – pre and post Africa) because I cannot imagine being ready to be a mom. I cannot imagine being with someone I would want to raise a child with. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a #foreveralone issue (if it was then I probably shouldn’t have joined the Peace Corps) but it’s just something I think about when I get caught up in those weird panicky states of confusion after being given one of the greatest compliments ever. Side note: One of my host brothers is 2 ½ months old and he is the cutest thing in the world. Also, Ugandans don’t believe in diapers 50% of the time…which is why I have been both peed and pooped on. I know I’m painting a very attractive picture of myself right now.
- With tomorrow marking the last day of 2014, I’ve been thinking a lot about this year as a whole. Moving to Uganda was obviously a huge part of it but there were so many other things that made this year incredible for me. The one trend I’ve noticed throughout is how unafraid I was to let myself feel. My ability to love easy and without reservation was not something I took pride in. For a long time, I considered it a weakness and I tried my best to stifle it. I realize that I am a passionate person and with every experience I’ve had this year, I embraced that part of myself a little bit more. I took risks and threw myself into the unknown, with the driving force that I did not want to live a life of regrets. I did not apologize for the way I felt and I was honest, both with myself and the people I encountered. Through this, I was able to achieve a sense of acceptance of my past and present (although I still struggle with patience toward the future). Ultimately, I really do believe that all of my experiences led me here, to Uganda, and for once in my life, I don’t feel like running away.
*On a slightly less optimistic note, sometimes I look through my Facebook profile (wifi willing, of course) and come across photos of me pre-Uganda and think wistfully “will I ever look pretty again??” Haha. I’m joking, of course. Not to sound cocky or anything but chasing dreams and having a continually improving sense of self has done wonders for my skin.
**In Uganda, it’s incredibly rude not to greet everyone you see. I’m getting used to it now, which may pose a problem in two years when I move back to the states. I imagine myself walking down the streets of Detroit being offended because no one is responding back when I ask them “How is the day?”