A NEW PUZZLE

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Its too hot inside, I'm sitting in the dark on the back patio. The wind rushes through the palms- rustling the fronds, stirring the night. When I close my eyes, Congo comes back to me. The same big sky above, dotted with the stars that look down from the heavens. The heavy summer air, humid and sweet. The crickets chirp, the air conditioners buzz, the occasional car zooms down a nearby avenue. A cold bottle of water, a tiny square of dark chocolate, the sweet scent of a flowering bloom. I imagine the fat raindrops falling on my face. I am sitting outside my hotel room in Kinshasa, drinking in the night.

All those evenings alone in the dark outside my hotel room did something to my soul, something i can't quite put into words. I never would've constructed that season, given the chance, but I would also never erase it, now that it has come to a close. I guess there's still some tension, I don't want to be that annoying person who only ever talks about that one time she lived in Africa. But I also can't ignore that there was something very simple and pure about those months void of productivity and accomplishment. Weeks of eating noodles out of a box and savoring cold glass bottles of coke. Weeks of the same simple routine, the labor of hand washing our clothes, the monotony of walking circles around the hotel out of sheer boredom. The nights scheming against cockroaches and mosquitos.

It was easy to appreciate little things. The luxury of a glass of wine or a package of tortillas. The complete lack of clocks and morning alarms. The ease of building friendships. Is it weird that some of my favorite people are scattered across the country? We spent a few weeks together, but forged this mysterious bond that is so much more than,  "well, she is my facebook friend, and we never actually see each other, but we ate raw onions dipped in hummus at Al-Darr's together and got sick off Hungry Lion together and visited this orphanage together and battled lice together and went to City Market together to walk around in the air conditioning together, and we ate fish eyeballs together at this Christmas potluck, oh! and..."

I'm wrestling to put all the pieces together- pieces from different puzzles that don't always seem to fit together. My western context, my African experiences, my Christian framework. It takes some elbow grease, it takes throwing some of the pieces out the window, it takes some tears and hard questions, but its not elusive. On nights like this, Congo still haunts me, calling me to remember. Reminding me to embrace my life a little more fully, a little more intentionally, and with a good dose of gratitude.
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