I’m leaving the country on Tuesday.
I went shopping yesterday, to pick up a few things. Toothbrush containers, earplugs, envelopes, a sewing kit. I almost bought a designer pair of tweezers. I’ve never lived in Africa, so right now it’s hard to imagine what I might need, and what would be superfluous. I’m just kind of slowly chipping away at the lists people have given me.
I decided I wanted some solid perfume, because, hey, maybe there will be times I’ll want to smell nice while living out in the bush. I stopped by a local shop called Northern Star. It’s one of those places you go to buy tie dyed tunics, ankle bells, incense, beads, and various religious Indian nick knacks. It’s kind of hippy central in there. They had a shelf with several dozen oil perfumes, and I think I sampled at least 6. A headache developed as the fumes from my wrist bombarded my nose. I bought the scent I already have, deciding to stick with the familiar, and left. But my arms, oh gosh.
My head pounded in the car as the scent from the oils wrapped around my face like a cloud. At the next store, I made a beeline for the restrooms and promptly soaped up and scrubbed as if my hands were infected with anthrax, but to no avail. I smelled like grandma, roses, and a Hindu temple all combined.
Earlier in the trip, I’d stopped by a salon and had my long hair trimmed. And by trimmed I mean they took away 6 inches. It’s still past my shoulders, but it was like I was Samson, and my strength was being stripped with each inch. It feels awesome, light, faster to wash (which was the whole idea), but I could hear Amy March’s voice in my head bewailing the loss of my ‘one beauty.’ And I didn’t even make 20 dollars. In fact, that’s what I payed.
So I’m driving down country roads on my way home, my hair significantly shorter, and I’m trying to sort out what that means. The window is rolled down even though it’s cold, because I can’t stand the smell of the perfume. My head hurts. I’m going to Africa in 5 days. My life is going through small and large changes in preparation.
It’s hard to imagine the arid landscapes I’ll be calling home. I’m convinced that there will be fewer ways for me to numb and distract my mind, and I’ll be drawn closer to that fountain which never runs dry. I know a year from now I’ll have seen it all made good, whatever the outcome.
I think about my dreams. I imagine my effort as a mere vapor, a drop that that falls from the sky and is soon absorbed by the desert ground that breaks its fall. But I also know that if every drop refused to fall because of it’s insignificance, everything would perish.
There’s a certain quiet that has permeated my life. I no longer feel scared or worried. I feel like I’m floating across a deep lake, and everything has settled into an indiscernible color, all the noise constrained to a hum in the back of my conscious.
I wonder if the silence is due to some fault of mine, or if it’s a time for me to wait, and listen. I wonder if this period of my life is the calm between the spaces where I’m stretched and tempered.
And then perhaps I don’t see growth because I’ve stepped off of the sand, a path where I could easily see the imprint of my steps, and have begun walking on stone. Eventually I’ll be able to look back and witness the height that I imperceptibly climbed. In any case, I am only a mere reflection of something greater. Like the moon, I redirect a source of life during my brief cycle in the heavens.
The cold finally got to me; I rolled up the window, and silently made my way home.