Sometimes I wake up surprised that I am in this room. The chipped blue walls I painted in high school. A bed so enormous I can turn sideways and my feet will not dangle when I can’t sleep. The box in the top of my closet with pictures of once living realities and fading memories. A mirror on the dresser to remind me that I forgot to plaster on my makeup. Carpet—warn fuzzy carpet, AC and a computer with unlimited Facebook access in the corner. But there is something new. Something that changed.
You know, I can still hear their voices. The blaring radio with the blown speakers wakes me up. Then come the children’s laughter echoing as they run up the hill to school singing the wrong words to Celin Deon. I should run, but not after that Larium dream, and my mosquito net fell in on me again.
I have a cup of Milo for breakfast, a bitter hot chocolate that warms the soul, and chase down the bus with Esther and Ama Rachel. Mame Esther gives us each a grease ball—the best fried bread that may or may not result in a heart attack. Michael is in his classroom. He smiles. Charity and Isabelle join us, and Osei tries to convince us to go to his class for the day. The teacher didn’t show. Again. I teach Spanish and hangman after an unsuccessful poetry lesson. I don’t mind anymore.
The road home is long and rocky, yet quiet and peaceful. The red dust is now a part of me, and something—something about the trees.
At home Grace is in the kitchen, slaving away at the next family meal, or scrubbing the bathroom for the hundredth time this week. Emmanuel out front—weeding with his machete and asking about my day. Maggie is in our room. Perched on her cot because the couch is now our shelf and dresser, trying to call Asanti so that he knows that they are still friends. We exchange a glance. A mutual understanding that the power is off, so forget about a fan.
I give her privacy. Try that is. It is impossible in a compound. Go to the kitchen and split a loaf of bread with Nate and Rachel, spreading generous amounts of Nutella and some type of peanut butter with an expired fake label. Chase comes back from the farm, shares some avocados Pa Mudi gave him, looking for someone to play Dame.
Christiana cooked us dinner. Highs and lows of the day start and end. Danielle comes in late because she has been having some adventure or other of a lifetime. We cut a pineapple, pick it up with our hands, and let the juice run freely down our arms until it drips off our elbows onto the cement.
Field notes. But how fun does that sound? We sit out under the stars, bugs ricocheting off of the lantern. We talk. And talk and talk and talk. I go to bed last, spent too much time scribbling away in my journal. I push back the mosquito net and mutter a prayer. Nothing is perfect, but I have never been happier.
I know I can’t say “but then I woke up,” because that is a writers taboo, but that is exactly what I have to do. Wake up. Be in this room with those blue walls and that mirror and a pile of homework waiting for me to muster up the motivation to make sense of it all, but embrace the change. Merge the realities. Merge me. Meanwhile I think the whole thing might have been a dream. A wonderful, intricate, life-altering dream.