Thursday, August 4, 2011

One day they are gone

As I walked past the window I glanced in, she was usually standing at the sink washing dishes. Not this time. When I walked passed there was only emptiness. The cupboards were empty, the counters were empty, the windowsills were empty…it was just…empty. I never knew much about them. The boy was Simba, he just turned 3. Simba cried all the time. Blood curdling screams is a more accurate description. I was convinced there was something wrong with him. She wanted to beat him all the time. I couldn’t really understand any of it. Blood curdling screams at 10:00 at night. Screams at 7 in the morning. There was the mom who went to the gym. There was lady at the window. The maid? The nanny? There was maybe the dad, sometimes I heard a man’s voice calling to Simba. They were the downstairs neighbors. Now they are gone. I won’t miss them. I didn’t know them and the screaming was terrible, it just made you uncomfortable. It was all you could think about when he really got going. But they are gone and it is just another group of people disappearing as people have been doing for the past two weeks.
Change is in the air and not just from the August winds. Real change. People you never thought would change are now making drastic life changes. People are leaving. Other are having babies. And I am freaking out. Over the past two weeks friends have left Zambia and others have decided to make the move out as well. People are getting jobs, or getting close. And then there is me in the sea of change feeling like a buoy getting thrown around in the waves but never moving. I am set to leave in October but I don’t really feel ready for the big move.
This is baby Jasmijn, my colleague's new daughter born 6 weeks ago. They She was born in Holland and they just came back last weekend.
It started when Ruben was about to leave. The night before he left we went to a goodbye dinner for another couple that was about to leave (Ruben’s had been the Friday before that I missed while fighting off a cold). We were sitting around the table, I across from Ruben, chatting and enjoying just another day. It was hard for me to make Ruben’s leaving real. Maybe I just couldn’t face the storm of reality that was about to hit. Instead of savoring my last chance to chat with Ruben I was fixated on my 7up bottle. It was a glass bottle of 7up and was just so cool. So I spent a good half hour photographing the thing. Luckily Ruben will be in Arizona for a while after he gets back from the states and will see him again soon after I get back to see my grandparents.
Cool right?

The goodbye dinner was for Nancy and Andy. Nancy was our training manager. She had been there from the start with us. They had made the decision to move back to Portland after her 2.5 year contract was finished. They left this past Monday. Luckily I have good friends in Portland and will have plenty of reason to make it that side again soon some day and will see Nancy and Andy as well.

From left and around the table: Alex, Sarita, Kate, Geoff, Andy, Nancy, Dale, Ruben
For all intents and purposes I will be leaving Zambia in October. The big question is what will I be doing once I leave? Where will I be for the next year? How am I going to make money? Where am I going to live? Will I be buying a car? Renting a house? Getting a dog? Paying for health insurance? So many things to think about and no real way to answer any of these questions yet but I have already started asking the questions. I had to go to the dentist earlier this week because my jaws hurt. Not only do my jaws hurt now, but my cheeks hurt as well. I grind my teeth when I sleep. I have been doing this for a while but the grinding must be getting worse because it hurts to chew and smile. I was hoping the yoga would help with the stress but today when I went it hurt my neck to look up. The stress is just coursing through my body. People are leaving; soon I will be joining them. In the mean time I hope to get a mouth guard to keep me from grinding my teeth down to numbs. I hope to put in a great cover letter and resume for the perfect job that I found for myself (that I should be doing research for right now instead of confessing my poor dental habits). I hope to successfully say goodbye to yet another set of friends leaving next week that I came into the country with. I hope to make some real life decisions over the next month. I hope to enjoy the rest of my time here in Zambia. Two+ months, but who is counting?

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