Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Mantra


         Today, I called friends in the morning to chat and figure out work logistics. Everyone said I sounded more productive and happier, that they were proud of me for keeping on. I remember smiling, feeling glad that my better mood, a recently risen phoenix from discontent’s ashes, flew across the airwaves.  Doing different odds and ends around the house lasted until almost noon, and then I went to the market. There, the usual ladies sat by their shaded stands in the courtyard, gossiping and selling an unusually large array of produce. Any day with carrots, cabbage, AND lettuce is a treat. Best I could tell, everyone around the town center sported their usual temperaments, ranging from apathy to lethargic contentment. Kids emphatically screamed “yovo” and “batuli”, local words for white people, as I strolled back down the sandy thoroughfare banked by trash. I ignored them the best I could. Coming home was a relief after dealing with the sun and stress outside our compound, and I sat first, to collect my thoughts. My cat, Kitty, was crazy hungry for fish, hissing and lunging at the bag as I held it. Her contrite post - lunch affection smoothed things out as per usual. I tried to nap around 2pm, fan directed and clothes off, but cried instead. Lying somewhere between a sorrow and a sob.  

Tears came for the times I’ve been embarrassed, harassed, and laughed at in Togo for things I couldn’t control, and how they stung so similar to past American pains. I cried for feeling glad to be leaving soon when many people here would if they only could. For wishing that I were somewhere else, but for knowing that I’ll miss this place once I’ve gone. Too many days feel like today, and soon, revisionist sadly, none will feel like them again. Tears came for not knowing what to do with what I’ve got, and not knowing what I’ve got until it’s gone.

My unfocused shave went well, and I’m trying a new rockabilly-esque set of chops on for size. My salad was delicious, a bowl of fresh veggies rarely disappoints, and I tried adding celery salt to the dressing I prepared. Yum. The shower was surprisingly warm and washing my hair felt like heaven after several dusty taxi rides recently. In bed again, I thought of my knitting instructor from college. Adelaide was a ninety-something New England firecracker of a lady, compact and razor sharp in moxie and vitality.  One day, I visited her quaint place for a knit. My boyfriend had recently left me and lies leapt to mouth whenever someone asked how I was. “Things are fine.” “Life’s busy and coming along.” “Everything’s looking up.”  With a brief searching glance, she saw through the fa├žade. “It’s okay not to be okay dear. If you’re unhappy, it’s better to say so and get it out. Time will make things better and you’ll turn it around, acknowledge that too. Everyone should accept, ‘I’m not okay, but I will be.’ ”

Another day’s done. I’m not okay, but I will be.