Friday, April 21, 2006


Driving to school on Tuesday I realized that I leave Ethiopia in exactly two months. Driving to school on Wednesday instead of being frustrated by the traffic caused by the continually branching lanes of cars, I just laughed and felt good.

I wrote an email to my friend about my very cliché mixed feelings about leaving Ethiopia. I’m torn, my heart is in two places, I wish I could bounce back and forth between the two countries at my will. On the one hand I can’t wait to go home. On my bad days I’m counting down the minutes until I leave. While I’ve found a home in Addis, I will always be from Oakland. Even though I don’t like baseball, I’ll always be a fan of the A’s. And more than that, my family is there. Sure I have blood relatives in
Ethiopia, but there are so many people in Oakland who love me to death, know me inside and out, and are truly there for me. I have friends in Ethiopia, but they’re not the same as my friends of six years and more. But on the other hand, I want to stay in Ethiopia, and leaving will be so hard. I will miss the sights, the sounds, the smells, the feelings. I will miss the ridiculous morning traffic.

I stop to think about it all. Why will it be hard for me to leave? What exactly is it that this country has given me? Why do I feel bigger, stronger, wiser? What have I done here except live life? Wake up, dress, eat breakfast, go to school, sports, come home, shower, eat dinner, do homework, go to bed. What have I seen that makes me feel so different? Buses and taxis and streets of black faces looking back at me; starving babies at their mothers’ breast as she sits begging on the sidewalk; excited young faces running up to my window asking for a donation for their soccer team; sheep and donkeys languidly strolling along the road with cars zooming past (I hear a “what is Ethiopia” coming up… I suppose that will be my last blog… in 2 months...). But what makes those things special? Ok, so they’re definitely not things I saw everyday growing up, but they’re nothing extraordinary and life-changing. Is it just part of growing up, this feeling of a deeper understanding and intimacy with something more than yourself? Because that’s what this is: I laugh at the absurdities of Ethiopia, and I suffer from its misfortunes, yet I still see its undemanding beauty. I see it for what it is, I hate it for what it is, I love it for what it is. I will always be more American than Ethiopian, more white than black, more me than anyone else. So I suppose I will never truly be habesha in the sense of looking, acting, and speaking like a true habesha. But whatever it is that I have gleamed from this country, I will have forever. I will always remember my version of Ethiopia.

As someone just commented on a previous blog: here’s to finding and redefining ourselves.