Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pumpkins and Pineapples

November 2009

I love Facebook and reading blogs because it helps me keep in touch with people so well. I love that I can see pictures of my friends’ kids as they are growing up….that I can hear about major events in their lives so that when I see them again, we can pick up where we left off.

But then there’s the hard part.

I was thinking about this recently when everyone started posting pictures of taking their kids to the pumpkin patch. And talking about fall colors and cold air and pumpkin pie scented candles. But over here on my side of the world, I laid awake till 1 am last night, staring into the darkness, with soaking wet hair, trying to breathe, waiting for the power to come back on so that we could turn on the air conditioner. As my friends in America are layering on sweaters, we are layering on the deodorant. I put out a fall-themed table runner last week, and this really confused Grace. Is it autumn, Mommy? Well, no, Sweetie, not in Tanzania, just in America. There is much discussion among our American mission friends (as every year) on how we will track down a turkey (a major undertaking) so that we can celebrate Thanksgiving (on a Saturday, since it’s not a holiday here).

It’s often not been so bad as long as I can forget what “my other life” would be like if I were in it. But having just gone through fall/winter last year in the States, and with all these reminders on the internet, it is, well, hard. So I struggle with wanting to keep in touch with people but not allowing my heart to dwell on what I don’t have. I struggle with wanting to remain “American” but yet allowing my children to delight in being Tanzanian.

And you’re probably thinking anyway, “But look at your amazing pictures of Zanzibar!” True. I know that. And though we don’t have bright orange pumpkins appearing in October, we have enormous pineapples being trucked in. So how do I live between these worlds? How do I retain my American-ness while embracing my Tanzanian-ness?

I realized recently that I have spent almost 14 of my 33 years in Africa. Just about half my life, isn’t it? It’s a strange feeling. I’m not quite sure which one is more me.
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