It's not that I don't love you, I do. I do! It's not that I'm so busy. I'm not, really. You can be as busy as you are, or as not busy. I make things busy sometimes, it's easier than thought. But it's 4:29pm on a Wednesday afternoon and the children are at playgroup and the construction next door is offering me a lull, a truly glorious afternoon of birds chirping and distant airplanes overhead and the click click click of my keyboard. And I'm not busy. And the constant ache that accompanies me as I pass through the last precious months of our time in Kenya has abated right now. I don't know why, but I'm grateful for a respite from the sadness.
So why am I not writing?
While I ponder that eternal question, I am going to do something that may be the beginning of the end for us here together----or maybe it's just a blog trick I once learned from a clown---but every once in the while for the next few months I will re-posting old pieces.
And here's one now.
Dispatch from a Highland
October 1, 2006
It rained last night. The leaves of the jacarandas and the flame tree and the various palms and even the eucalyptus trees that loom as high as New York tenements are entirely still until a slight breeze encourages a small sway of a branch or the indifferent flutter of a few leaves. It's grey and dark and quiet. Early morning. There have been a few mornings of sun since we returned five months ago―three, I think. They say the reason the English took so well to Nairobi was because the weather reminded them of home.
Evans has just brought the newspaper to the front door. The girl opened the door for him and I heard Agnes say "Say, 'thank you Ivan'" (she calls him Ivan, we don't know why) and the girl repeated Tank you Ivan! and Evans said, Ok. The cars are parked in the yard because one of the jacarandas was creaking yesterday and we feared the branch might fall during the night, so we cleared everything out of the way. Ghostly shapes of people walking along Spring Valley Road flicker through the hedge. Sometimes when I'm sitting here working, a truck passes with guys or trees or once a car being carried up high on the flatbed, and the guys or the trees or once a car seem to be flying along the top of the hedge. It reminds me of one twilight spring evening years ago on a Greyhound bus to New York. We passed a trailer pulling a very sleek yacht, and the bus windows were high enough to make the boat seem to be sailing gracefully along with us. There were not many passengers on the bus, and the few passengers were reading or sleeping, and the orange twilight with the boat gliding alongside made it a very peacful, reassuring moment.
Sometimes, on a Monday or Wednesday or Friday afternoon at 3 o'clock, the shape of an aya pushing a stroller flickers through the little openings of the hedge, and I realise it's already time for playgroup. Just then the girl rushes in and says Byebyemama! and rushes out and I go out too, making sure the diapers are enough the baby is fed the shoes are on properly and Agnes has her phone―fussiness, really, that might translate into Let me come too? The ayas are ringing each other, the alert that we are here! And so they set off, baby facing forward, serious with intent, the girl holding Agnes' hand. When they join the group, the ayas lean toward each other throwing out their hands for a grasp that is held, swaying, as habari's? are exchanged with so much warmth and laughter it seems it's been months, when in fact they may have chatted that very morning. Soon eight or nine or ten ayas are sauntering up Spring Valley Road with their strollers; the children sitting upright and alert, attentive to what may lie ahead, like wise little captains on deck, their ships heading into potential rough seas.
M. is still asleep and Grieg's Symphony in C Minor is playing in the next room. The CD skips during the last movement and sometimes we listen for hours to the dramatic finale before realizing we've been passing through time in a sort of sustained climax. It's been growing darker as the morning progresses. This room is dark too because the light burned out several days ago and who wants to change lightbulbs? Especially when it requires bringing a ladder in from the garage and all that construction. The light in the bathroom is out too, and every evening we light three big candles and the children have their baths by candlelight. One night this week no one remembered to blow the candles out. I woke in the morning to find two candles still burning; the third a pool of wax settled into a burnt-out hole in the shelf. Stalactites of wax―wax cascading over the edge of the shelves, across the hot water bottle, the books, the red shoes... smothering whatever else had the misfortune to be in the way. And me thinking Holy Moses it's a miracle we didn't burn down the whole farm...
The CD skips, the lights are out, the cars are parked in the yard to
evade a creaky tree... It's the little dysfunctions of a house that I
love, as well the series of steps that address them, sometimes without
actually correcting them. Like a house where I once lived on the coast
of New England whose roof had a habit of leaking. Considerable effort
and finance went into its repair, but the leaks persisted. Finally,
resigned to fate, we placed buckets and towels around the house when
the storms came, and settled in among the falling drops of water. It
had a calming effect. And it didn't deter from the beauty of the boats
crossing the ocean outside the window, seeming to pass through the bare
branches of the elms.