September 24, 2009
Oh Birthday, Birthday. What do you mean to me these days? I usually think about my birthday the way that most people think about New Years. I use it as a little marker to reflect on the past year, figure out where I am going, where I am headed and how I plan on getting there. Nowadays I think a lot about my mom on my birthday and what it must have been like to actually give birth to me and bring this whole crazy (then) little person into the world. I can only imagine that it was insane and someday I will celebrate my birthday with some real life knowledge on the whole subject of birthing...thankfully that day is no day soon. Haha.
This year I will not be spending my birthday in the village watching Mama Witi get a shot on her rear end. Nope, I will be on a bus for most of the day on the way to Dar es Salaam because this year I am celebrating my birth and the tragic end of life for a fellow PCV. It's all pretty unreal to me. Let my preface this by saying that PC is like a family. As much as you all at home love us and care for us, there are a lot of things that get lost in translation and thus are unable to be really understood. PCVs who are here in Tanzania with us understand that which cannot transcend the barriers, we support each other, we try and make it all work out, make sense, make meaning. Its actually really more profound then that, but I'm not too great with words.
On Tuesday the 22nd Joe, who was originally a PCV in Kenya but was evacuated during the outbreaks and decided to continue service in Tanzania, died in a rock climbing accident. He was with a fellow PCV when it happened. As far as I know she is physically unharmed. He was working as an education volunteer in the "Deep South" of TZ in a village called Ndanda. I met Joe a few times. He was a really great guy, very hospitable, very chill and super easy to get along with. On Sunday the 26th PC is holding a memorial for Joe in Dar es Salaam. This feels like the most appropriate way for all of us to gather, grief, remember and support each other.
Like I said, it's all unreal. I keep thinking about what his family must be thinking and feeling. I keep thinking about what the volunteer who was with him must be thinking about and feeling. I keep thinking about the memories that I have of him. I keep thinking that tomorrow I am damn lucky to be marking my birth into this world. I wear this invisibility cloak that makes me feel untouchable. I will not die in this country. How pompous is that? I think that 23 is the unveiling of that cloak...maybe I am getting old now.
Because life is not just a one page book, there are a few other things that I wanted to write about. The school construction project is about to get underway. When I get back from Dar, if there is a huge mound of sand- which is the school's contribution to the project- we will begin buying supplies. They are really excited and totally grateful. I had a meeting with the school board last week and when it was almost wrapped up the Mbunge, or parliament representative for Njombe showed up on surprise notice and decided to tell us what to do with the building project. Then he quizzed me as to why we were putting certain things where we were and I responded in Kibena, which shut him up and cracked everyone else up. He's also excited that he project is really going to get finished and we all agree that it needs to be done before December so that it can be ready for the next school year to start in January. I'm really exited.
In baby/birthing news, Witi is bigger then ever and about to burst any day. I asked her to please try and wait until I get back from Dar and she just laughed and told me that she's not having this baby until November. That's basically impossible. She's huge and I cannot wait to be there with her and bring this baby into the world. Now that will be a good day.
That is really all that I wanted to update on except that I meet a man that I knew before I left and got to re-know him during this past little chunk of time and it's been really awesome.
Please send your prayers, good vibes, little bites of inspiration and warmth to Joe's family. I cannot imagine how terrible this is for them. They probably need all of the goodness that they can get during such an awful time.
I love you all and I can feel it coming back at me. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Peace and love from Tanzania to Michigan, California, Montana, and where ever it is that you lay your head at night. Life is precious, I'm noting that in bold and going to carry on with my 23 years holding that pressed tight against my heart.
September 29, 2009
Exhaustion. Every tweak in my body and here I am tweaking out. Time is wearing me down. Travel is wearing me out. My body feels like a temple to the god of unrest and booze filled dreams. Some parts of my brain are missing, along with meaning, usefulness and QUIET. Unrest for the weary and nothing but insanely profound words for closed ears. Falling quite in dark rooms while moving between shadows of self-definition. Don't define and confine. Don't, don't, don't.
Parts of me feel like they are marinating in sorrow, sadness and guilt. Parts of me feel like they are helium particles, floating up up up. Somewhere I exist neither floating nor marinating. I'm just there sweating out all of those bottles of water we remembered to buy.
I had a dream that Scott Wallace came to visit me and we went to my village for a week or so, played Frisbee, ate with Mama Witi and crew, peeled potatoes and tried to bake a carrot cake on coals that were a tad to hot, then we went to the beach and spent too much time in the sun, but loved every second of it. Who knows. It was a really good dream and I didn't want to wake up from it. I heard a quote once, "I wake to sleep and take my waking slow." A perfect description for such a dream. There are a lot of things that I can't actually talk about in this blog because I have to censor it.
Joe's memorial was terribly sad, but really healing. It was good to see Jenna even though she was an emotional wreck from being with him. It was good to hear stories of him. I didn't share mine but I am holding it close to my heart. Some of his students came and it was moving to see how loved he was by these guys. The wind blew out most of our candles during the candle lighting ceremony, but I think it was Joe himself breathing down from heaven saying, "Stop mourning me! I am still here!"
I don't know. It's real to me now and that's difficult but better then pretending that I still wear the invisibility cloak. I'm sending his family the only thing that I can- healing vibes of love and some strength to help them carry on. I can't spend all of my time just feeling bad for them because I don't think that's very helpful. I don't really know if anything is actually helpful in situations like this.
Also, I am actually 23 and it's old. To celebrate a very nice gentleman took me out for dinner and dancing. Hummus in Tanzania is really only for very special occasions and I loved every garlic packed morsel. Dancing till 2am and coming home with your dress stuck to your body because you got so sweating dancing your booty off, well that's only for really special occasions too. It was fun despite all of the outside crazy life events.