Monday, June 26, 2006

The End is Near

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower,
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day,
Nothing gold can stay.

-Robert Frost

Friday marked two weeks until the end of school. Prom is next Saturday the 27th at the Sheraton. The cafeteria that was supposed to open in January has finally opened and has had a successful first week. I had my first final exam, an English oral presentation, and received an A. I bought my yearbook and fought back the tears caused by memories dredged up by the pictures. Thursday the 18th marked the one-month countdown until I leave.

I know, I know, I’m a broken record, but I’m leaving. On June 18th I’m getting on a plane and leaving Ethiopia. I’m returning to Oakland.

I’m actually really excited to go back home. I miss driving, I miss grocery stores, I miss Mexican food (…and Chinese food, and smoothies, and real American sandwiches), I miss the view of the bay at night. Things are easy here in the sense that you don’t have to cook, clean, or wash anything, but I miss convenience in the sense of driving five minutes to Rite Aid to buy a bag of cotton balls for $2.00. I missed prom with my friends. I see their pictures, and everyone looked gorgeous, which I guess isn’t that hard, they’re 17. I hear them laughing in my head, imagine what it was like shopping for dresses, getting their hair done, at dinner. Yeah, our prom is this weekend, and the Sheraton will be beautiful… but people don’t even wear corsages here.

I’m actually ready to go home, I miss it. I’ve learned that at an international school, you are totally introduced to other cultures and your eyes are opened to so much more. I can recognize so many flags now. But what’s funny is that it also makes you that much more nationalistic. I have friends from all over the world, but I can commiserate with my American friends in a very different, much more personal way; we can talk about certain places, even restaurant chains like La Salsa and Baja Fresh, and things about American culture. As much as I hate American politics and how America stomps about the world, I have never been so proud to be American.

But I worry about what it will be like when I return home. Last year I wrote an essay about my anxiety over leaving for Ethiopia. In it I mentioned how scared I was to come home to too much change: “There is the possibility that home will become too much of something that it isn’t now, and I’ll no longer fit. I worry that while I’m gone life will go on too easily without me. I won’t be missed; I’ll be forgotten. After a year of absence and growth, my present friends and I will no longer know each other. I imagine returning home only to be the awkward girl that follows and clings on to people because she has no one. I am afraid of being left behind.” I do still have those fears; I know that it won’t be a simple, seamless transition, and that there will be an initial awkwardness with my friends. I can already see us sitting around and talking, when someone says, “Oh my god, remember last year when…”. This will happen, and this will be all that it takes to make me an outsider looking in on other peoples’ lives. But what if we change that quote around a little bit: “After a year of absence and growth, my home and I will no longer know each other.” I will never see things in the same way as I did before I left, and I blame this on Ethiopia; it has changed and shaded the way I view the world. But I will miss Ethiopia. The sad thing is, Ethiopia has taken my home as I once knew it away from me, and I can never get that back. And once I go back to that different home, the Ethiopia that I know, my version of Ethiopia, it will never exist. As excited as I am that I’ll be back here next January for my uncle’s wedding, I dread it as well, because it will be so different from my Ethiopia right now. Nothing gold can stay.

Leaving Ethiopia… leaving real injera, Amharic lessons, maids and drivers. Leaving ICS, swimming at the Sheraton, Abiy and his adorable baby. Leaving family, beggars, and unpaved roads. How many friends have I made that I’ll never see again? Do I write in their yearbooks ‘have a nice life!’??? Next year I can’t laugh with anyone while we speak broken English with heavy Ethiopian or West African accents. Everyone will have misconceptions about Africa and Ethiopia.

“We meet to part, and part to meet again.” – Anonymous bullshitter. This is life? A sequence of ‘hello’s and ‘goodbye’s and ‘have a nice life’s?

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Another anonymous-trying-to-make-the-best-out-of-nothing. We’re supposed to just look back fondly on memories, sigh and smile, and then pack up those memories, lose them in the dark, in the back of our hearts and minds, and just walk on forward. 30 years from now we’re supposed to be submissive, forget our dreams and principles and fight, forget the names of people we cry as we say goodbye to, forget they even existed. This is life?

Mr. Frost, you’re too right: nothing gold can stay. Give up, let go, start forgetting now. This is life.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

i loved your blogs! its true, Ethiopia is unforgetable... and she has broken my heart.
God Bless Ethiopia and the people..
and God bless your soul for this!

enaseb said...

samra,
the experiences don't leave. they intertwine within and meld into the very core of you. this is how we become who we are.
i was AWOL for a bit. i have been thinkin of you and your sojourn. just slowly catchin up in your blog.