the first bite.

September 14, 2008

i remember a tuesday evening last winter [or, i suppose, it could have been spring – tuesday nights often get smooshed together in my head] when i sat out on the front steps of first presbyterian church with a friend after i had given a talk to a couple hundred college students. as i often feel on tuesday nights, i was irritated and sad because i hadn’t said what i wanted, or expressed what was inside of me very well. he listened patiently [as he did to many of my post-speaking, self-absorbed debriefings] as i babbled on about how i should probably quit speaking – because i clearly am not able and, quite frankly, i have nothing left to say. when i was done verbally throwing up on the sidewalk of garden street, my friend posed a question – do i really believe i have nothing to say or was there so much inside of me that i didn’t know how to share it? dang it, he was probably right.

for the past two weeks, i haven’t been able to type even one full paragraph before my mind switches tracks, my feelings want to be expressed differenly, and i start all over again: a new paragraph that never gets finished. it’s been frustrating and has left me exhausted, feeling as if perhaps i have nothing to say. i have shut my laptop and walked away numerous times, unsatisfied with my words and annoyed at their limits [or maybe, at my own]. and today, an old question is asking itself – do i really have nothing to say or is there so much inside of me that i don’t know how to share it? dang it, that’s probably it.

so, this afternoon, as the september sun is shining and the sounds of neighborhood children echo in the air, i will sit on my front porch and muster up the courage [and energy] to try. and i choose to be kind to myself today: to take small bites and chew carefully, to not expect myself to be able to say more than i am ready for, to honor the place where God is currently holding me by not forcing it past too quickly.

twenty-two days ago richard dropped me off at the kilmanjaro airport – in the same white van he had first picked mom and me up in two months earlier. i walked up to the ticket counter and through tear-filled eyes and a lumped throat checked myself in. “kuna matatizo gani?” the woman behind the counter asked. she wanted to know what the trouble was. “ninahuzuni,” [i am sad] i replied, “ninakupenda sana, tanzania” [i love tanzania very much]. she smiled and handed me my ticket. i remember wishing that the flight would be cancelled, or overbooked. but my wishes were left ungranted, and two hours later i was on a plane [the first in a very long line of planes] heading back to the world i had come from. a world filled with people i care deeply for, a job that has meant everything to me for nearly a decade, a beautiful home [complete with an adorable pug], and the promises of my favorite season. i am back now. i am sleeping in my own bed, going to the market on saturdays, walking to the grocery store and trying not to cry in front of the cashier, spending time with people i love, reading new books, going to work each day, catching up on political news, forcing myself to go to church [well, most of the time], drinking coffee, going to weddings, taking walks, showering every morning, going to the gym.

and this world isn’t mine anymore, not completely, not like it once was.

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4 Responses to “the first bite.”

  1. dave said

    words…you can’t live with ’em, and you can’t live without ’em.
    at least, that’s how i feel.

  2. ty said

    it’s good to have you back, lis.

  3. s said

    i love to hear your story and the way it unfolds the more you keep telling it. i’m enjoying getting to know the new you as hard as that process is sometimes. and i think it’s pretty beautiful.

  4. e in b.a. said

    fall´s coming and this season i won´t see it.
    i know you´ll enjoy it for both of us though.

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