Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do after the Peace Corps. Yes, I realise that it’s two years away (and yes, I realise that my spelling is in British English, but that’s my Microsoft word is programmed now!). But still, thinking about the future helps me sometimes, especially when the days are treacherously long. Imagining the time when I will have running water and constant electricity makes me a little less homesick. I, unlike many of my fellow community members, have the knowledge that this life is temporary. That I will eventually return back to America to daily showers (ok, who am I kidding? Bi-weekly showers) and having the luxury of dishwashers and laundry machines at my fingertips. These are futures that all my students and neighbours dream of, but will they ever get there?
This makes me wonder, what is it that I really want for my future anyways? I’ve thought a lot about grad school or continuing to work with international organizations like the Peace Corps. I’ve even thought about, on a good day of course, extending my service to stay in Kenya for three years. But after my stay here, will I go back to the US and finally settle down as David puts it? Not the settle down, like get married settle down, but the settle down like live in one place longer than a few years. (I’ve been hopping from continent to continent, country to country since before I can remember). But the truth is, I don’t think I can. Maybe it’s because I crave the adventure of living abroad. Won’t my life be boring if I don’t have to take my battle pose against the giant creatures that occupy my room before I go to bed? (I killed a giant hairy fanged spider last night) Won’t I get tired of speaking English everyday? And above all, won’t I miss the knowledge of knowing that every morning when I wake up it is going to be a new learning experience? I’m not saying that every job in America is boring. I just cannot imagine myself feeling fulfilled after a 9 to 5 day at the corporate office. I know I complain a lot (I can check back at my old blogs and read about my whining over lack of running water), but in reality, I love my life here. Living here is my life now, and sure there are days when the novelty wears off, but overall I’m comfortable just living here. Today, a community member told me, in dhoLuo and translated through my friend Emmah, that I’m part of the community now and I need to learn the language. I was flattered that he called me part of the community, up until now, I’ve been referred to as the “visitor” or “mzungu.” His comment really sunk in the fact that I am here, right now. And no matter if I have times when all I can think about is life in America, I’m part of the community and I need to mentally be here. I think I need to work on “staying present” as the director of my study abroad Cape Town program used to say. I need to learn to stay in the moment and appreciate the everyday experiences of life here. I want to learn the local language. I want to try those gross little dried fish that everyone here claims are “tamu sana” or very sweet. I want to laugh at myself when I slip in the foot deep puddles of mud. And I want to savour the moments, good and bad, that I know will last me a lifetime.
I guess I look towards the future when life gets tough here. And that’s ok. But I also can’t overlook the fact that I should be appreciating the days that I have here as well. I quote from the book I just finished, puts it in good words:
“So if she were granted one small wish, perhaps it would only have been not to know. Not to know what each day held in store for her. Not to know where she might be, next month, next year. Ten years on. Not to know which way her road might turn and what lay beyond the bend” The God of Small Things