Sunday, May 15, 2011

The End of the World, the End of the Road

The Ghanaian churches all seem to have gone on an End of the World kick. Most are just sticking with the classic "the end is near" general approach, but one particular church has announced that Judgment Day is officially May 21st. Personally I think that would just be downright mean of God to end the world ONE DAY before I fly home. I'm petitioning him to change it to May 24th so that I have at least a little bit of time to devour all the American foods that I miss. "Please give me a chance to eat Panera just one more time...and see my mom again. Amen."

The Apocalypse may be negotiable; my flight home is not.

Part of me wishes that my flight was like the end of the world though, so it could just creep up on me and one day I would wake up and suddenly discover I was leaving. This whole counting down business is killing me. On one hand, I'm pretty squirrelly to get home. For the first time it's starting to feel like I really have been gone 9 months. All the people and things I haven't let myself miss have broken down the mental door and taken over my brain; I can't stop thinking about them, imagining what that first week back will be like. It doesn't help that with my work more or less finished and no other volunteers in town, I'm bored a lot. Going home seems a lot more appealing when the highlight of my day was rereading a People magazine my mom sent me in December. Still... Third term began at Good Shepherd this week. I hadn't seen most of my kids for almost a month. Their dutiful "You are welcome, Madam" when I walked in was definitely scripted, but no one forced the huge grins on their little faces. Seeing my kids again forced me to realize, perhaps not for the first time but no less powerfully, that going home will mean leaving.

The questions have started coming from people both here and at home, "How do you feel about going home? What will you miss the most?" etc etc. Mostly I give the standard, "I'm happy to go home, sad to leave. I will miss the food, the beach, my students, my host family, the weather." Which is true and satisfies most people, win win. But asking me that is like asking someone what they love about someone else. 90% of the time you're going to get an answer that sounds pretty much like, "I love that he/she is smart, funny and kind." That may be true, but it's not the heart of it. The core reasons are much more subtle and indescribable than a handful of general character traits.

Likewise, the things I will miss most about Ghana go far deeper than fufu and living in eternal summer. I will miss little hands exploring my arms and face for wonders such as freckles and tanlines, picking at my nail polish and pulling my arm hair. The staccato tapping of lizards fighting on the metal roof. Finding tiny braids in random places all over my head for hours after I let the girls play with my hair. I will miss that moment when I see someone I know from far away, and a brilliant white grin appears on an otherwise featureless dark face. The roaming coffee cart at the trotro station that serves a cup of powdered Nescafe for 1 cedi far better than anything I have ever gotten at Starbucks. Surprising people when I understand an Ewe word they didn't expect me to know. I will even miss waking up to deafening Gospel music on weekend mornings.

I can't be as sad as my Ghanaian friends and family over my departure, but neither can I be as happy as my American friends and family over my arrival.

Tomorrow begins my "lasts." It will be my last Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. This week I will have my last day at the orphanage, eat my last fufu, go to the beach for the last time. Well...the last time until I come back, anyway.

I don't plan to write again before I leave, but I will post at least one more time once I'm home, so stay tuned!


  1. You said you don't "plan" on posting again while still in Ghana, but I click on your blog every day just in case!! :)

  2. Sure understand the happiness and sadness!!! Wishing you a wonderful trip home and reunion!!!

  3. My heart just sing with joy,reading about your blog.Thank you so much for visiting my country to help least fortunate. Your service is absolutely wonderful.May the Lord bless you and keep you. May He grant you peace,joy and happiness.God bless your heart.