Monday, 10 March 2014

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.

Hellos, goodbyes. Wonderful to see you. I’ve missed you so much. Always praying for you. Wish we could have had more time. It’s been so lovely. It won’t be long. It won’t be long. I really hope it won’t be long.

It might be long.

To see so many people again – well, I found myself walking through grey rainy streets, happiness pouring from my eyes like light. Reunions can’t be compared to anything else. They fill me with anticipation for heaven.

Fiona’s mouth falling open. Pink-shirted Morgan squinting through her glasses. Rachel laughing silently into a cup of coffee, her shoulders shaking. Joan and John, moving slowly and carefully, but blessing people quickly and abundantly. Jessica and Rebecca at my front door, eyebrows up, bubbling with stories. Barnams’ girls full of icecream-related news and gossip. Julie’s precious children, twice the size and twice as gorgeous as last time. My sisters gesturing frantically from the car window for me to throw my suitcases and myself into the car, as if my arrival at the City was a bank robbery gone wrong. Meeting a puppy who isn’t really small anymore. Sleeping in my own excessively soft bed. Grandpa’s 91st birthday. Dinners and lunches with cherished family members. The food. Glorious glorious food.

But it was a stressful time too, featuring far too little Shakespeare and far too much angsting and huddling by the radiator, wondering how I ever survived these obscene temperatures.

I returned to Kisumu on Friday with the fresh revelation that I live in one of the most magnificent corners of the earth, to my precious mother, father and a small surprise in the form of Goldilocks (Ebonycurls?) sleeping in my bed.

Goodbyes, hellos. I didn’t expect to feel such hot, poisonous sorrow as I walked away from the silver Fiesta. I hate to leave my sisters.

When you say goodbye, a relationship immediately roots itself in the past. Everything you meant to each other, though ever-present in terms of the heart, is in the past. You can’t return to the moment your eyes met and you saw an expression on their face that you’ve never seen before. The moment your mutual dislike crystallised into mutual understanding. The moment you realised you had to get away from a certain person before they drove you out of your mind. The moment you felt truly loved.

Those moments become the past. The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.

You can’t change what you did, what you said. I have done many things differently than I would today. They are lost to the past, and I am divided from them by yawning spaces, greater than all the oceans. There are words, dances, text messages, kisses, emails, slaps, falls and expressions I would like to take back. We carry our regrets in our arms, close to our hearts, warm as memory.


But hey. Through a hundred pasts, I’ve had you people. Oceans and time divide most of us now, but I thank God for each of you.