Somedays I am filled with contentment. There is no better place then my deck, with the verdant life around me, climbing vines of hops, freshly mowed grass, the breeze blowing through soft leaves. All of this against the back drop of the most perfect blue sky. Wisps of white swirling through. It is hopeless to even take a picture because there is no lens that can capture the beauty of it all. To experiences this beauty it is essential to hear the breeze rustle the leaves and the birds chirping and to smell the freshness that only spring has. This is perfection.
Yet in that instant I long for the congested, diesel filled streets of Addis Ababa. The strong coffee and the chatter of Amharic with is explosive letters that I will never begin to replicate. I long for the contrast of beautiful bright flowers on a corrugated tin shack or the contrast of a Muslim woman in full black hijab and burkah walking down the street next to an Orthodox Christian shrouded in white. The clucking of chickens and bleating of goats are the big city African parallel of the simple chirp of suburban Robins.
I long to drive on the steep and colorful hills of Kampala Uganda where colors are brighter than anywhere else I have been in the world. Where boda bodas carrying more passengers than I imagined possible weave throughout the crowded streets. Where women in tight short shirts and crisp white shirts walk to work next to women in traditional, floral, multi-colored fabric, possibly walking to the same place of work. Kampala, where the rain falls so hard and fast the red earth cannot handle it. And just as quickly it stops.
I long for the skinny, windy streets of Port-a-prince, with walls so high, they are hard to see around. Where there is, 6 years later, the effects of the earthquake are visible on every street. And even though most roads are impassable, children still walk to school. Some with brightness in their eyes, others who look empty and dull. Where a beautifully painted village on a hillside draws the attention of photographers who capture the bright colors in the distance, but miss the poverty hidden inside.
I do not belong in one place. I do not want to. I would not appreciate my suburban home without the other cities that have become a part of my life. And I would not appreciate those cities with out this home to go back to.
I want it all. I want Paris and Ethiopia. I want Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. I want naps in hammocks and hikes in mountains. I want classic novels and trashy tv. I want early nights and late mornings. I want something new every day and I want tradition. I want to be and I want to do and I and want to laugh and I want to teach and I want to learn. I want to walk in a city I have never been and be a person I have never been.
But today, I am here. At my home, with the sun and shade and breeze and birds. And I want to soak it into my bones, for someday, I will be longing for it as I am in an airplane, somewhere between somewhere and nowhere, between who I was and who I will be. And as they say in the great Musical Rent “No day but today!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhuApOrxhTU