Monday, September 05, 2005


It’s Friday night, and despite the welcome back dance at school I’m at home. However, it sounds much more depressing than it really is. I just didn’t feel like going. I had dinner with my parents, came back to CMC and walked around the compound with Betty, hung out with some girlfriends that live here, and now here I am typing. Besides, tomorrow Betty and I are going to go out and be gone all day. And despite my absence at the dance, I’m so surprised with how well and quickly I’m adjusting. Sure, I have these moments where I space out and find myself wandering down Telegraph and having a smoothie in Montclair as if I never left. But as I was telling a girl earlier today, it’s not that painful, I-need-to-stick-my-head-under-a-pillow-because-I’m-so-sad-and-homesick feeling; it’s a poignant ache somewhere deep inside, a happy memory, an everlasting love. It’s actually so much fun to meet new people, and I’m getting along really well so far.

I’d say that the biggest problem I’m having as of right now is the classism. Last night after I ate dinner with Menna and Danny, I started clearing my plate and Menna told me that I really didn’t have to do that. I have someone that cooks for me and cleans up after me. When I come home in the evenings my bed has been made. I have a driver that drives me to school. At school kids have drivers bring them their lunch at 11:45 so that it’s still warm when they eat it. After school kids will just hang out, leaving their drivers waiting for them for who knows how long (because hey, it’s not like the driver has a life or anything), until they’re finally ready to go. And obviously the driver should be ready. I don’t know that I’ll ever get used to this. Not that I AT ALL enjoy doing dishes at home, cleaning up behind myself, menamen (etc., and stuff), but there are times when I just want to scream, “I CAN DO IT MYSELF, THANK YOU!”

Hmm, what else is going on? I have to be at school at 9 a.m. tomorrow, a Saturday, for training for volleyball and soccer, and afterwards I’m getting my hair braided. Next Saturday is the Ethiopian New Year, and Wyclef Jean is coming to the Sheraton to perform. HECK YEAH I’m going to see him! There may (yes, there is) be a certain boy interest. So, yeah, I suppose that’s all for now.

Moving in and moving on

I don’t know what to say. No, I guess that I have so much to say that I don’t know where to start. First of all, I haven’t written in awhile, but please excuse me, school has kept me very busy. Besides homework, sports have started. In the fall we play Varsity volleyball, and there’s a tournament in South Africa in November; however, if you want to go to the tournament you also have to play six-a-side soccer, so we train for both sports during the fall. And MY GOD, not even having had been here for two weeks, I was training at a 7500-foot altitude after coming from more or less sea level; by the time we were doing our cool-down stretches I was so winded, it felt like something was inside of my body twisting my lungs, and the world seemed spotty through my eyes, and kept tilting from side to side. In the end it’s worth it, though: I’ll be in incredible shape, going to JoBerg will be incredible, and when we’re there we’ll be running in circles around the other team.

Secondly, I moved into CMC yesterday (Saturday)! CMC is the name of the development where I’m staying (named after the contractor that built it), and even though it’s on the outskirts of town it’s really very nice. It’s a gated compound, and so is very safe, and oftentimes kids walk around at night, or go to the courts to play basketball and just hang out. It’s really nice because it allows you that beaucolic neighborhood experience. For example, last night when Betty and I got home we were in her room and suddenly there’s a knock at the door and deep voice said, “Special delivery.” Lo and behold it was Elmo, a boy who goes to ICS with me, and a really close friend of Betty and her family. It was really nice because we all just talked in her room for who knows how many hours, Betty even fell asleep, and Elmo finally left a little after one o’clock when Dr. Salam made him go. But it’s weird. I’m past the “I-can’t-believe-it’s-really-happening” stage, but today I unpacked my clothes into a new closet, and tonight I’m sleeping in a different bed. I’ll still see my family, hopefully every other day, but it’s weird. It’s hard to verbalize, and that makes me feel even more immature, but this is a huge step for me. Moving in is moving on, not that I’ll ever fully disconnect from my parents, but it’s scary. Tonight I had dinner with my family, and afterwards when my dad called Abiy, the taxi driver, I had asked to be picked up and dropped back off at CMC as soon as possible, just because I had some things to take care of. But I didn’t know that as soon as possible would be only be fifteen minutes. And so it goes.

As for the rest of yesterday evening, last night was my first night out in Addis. During the day Betty and I had gone with my parents to Mercato, a busy, chaotic market area, to do a little bit of shopping. After that Betty and I met up with a friend of hers from Sandford, the British school, got pizza, and went to a concert of their friends’. I guess that these four boys are aspiring rappers, and they put together an exhibition. While it wasn’t the most enjoyable time ever, it was definitely an experience. It was pretty hilarious to watch some people dance, because even though they could move their bodies, some people had ridiculous dance moves. Also, I find it really funny to see how hip-hop culture has influenced other parts of the world. I’m on the other side of the globe, in a hall filled with Ethiopian teenagers, and I still haven’t escaped America. Everyone is matching like you’d never believe, and boys are wearing Ecko shirts that fall half-way down their legs, or basketball jerseys, baggy jeans, and the Air Forces to complete the outfit. But it doesn’t seem natural for all of them, on many it looks slightly ludicrous, yet they feel that because they’re black, it’s what they’re supposed to do. The best analogy I can come up with – and please excuse me if I offend – is that they remind me of those stereotypical gangster wannabe white boys that you see in the movies. It just doesn’t fit. But I guess I’m not the only one “moving on.”