28 July 2013 – 2 June 2018: Five Years in Apartment 8C

I remember how it felt to leave our little house on Cisco street in Nashville in 2013. It was weird to think about someone else sleeping in my room, guarded by my blue striped walls.

I remember the moment I walked into my room in Nairobi. The bed was the flattest mattress I could ever remember seeing. There was a white plastic chair beside the bed. The curtains were closed because it was nighttime. The dim light was yellowy. There was a quilt on the bed, handcrafted, but not by someone I knew, or wanted to know. I was tired. And not just ‘I flew across the face of the planet today’ tired. I was tired of feeling like I was leaving. And walking into the room didn’t feel like coming home, even when I most wanted it to.

In 2013, I couldn’t imagine ever loving that room, but I did. Eventually, it did feel like coming home. When I walked through the door and flopped on the bed. When I woke up with the cat on my chest and the sound of kids in the stairwell. When I did my homework sitting on the floor with the windows wide open.

A few months ago, I packed my belongings into bags and walked out of the cabinet-lined, wooden-tiled room that I had grown to love. Leaving, all over again.

{Bellway Park, 8C}

‒ a poem in which the walls tell me what they’ve been hiding

We’ve seen it all.
The homecomings and the leavings.
The suitcases dragged tiredly and excitedly through the door.

You and the dark-haired child used to be much smaller.
You used to laugh a lot less.

We told the cat we couldn’t speak.
We’ve listened to the him meow all day long.

We’ve heard the neighbors tell you to keep the noise down.
We agree.

We’ve seen every movie you’ve ever watched.
We love the paintings you have hung.

Tell the dark-haired child that we feel
the small sting of that basketball over and over.
The basket attached to the door,
we hear it is feeling a bit neglected.

Sometimes, when it is very dark outside,
we move in just a little.
We think all that pacing can’t be doing you any good.

Now, we watch the bags pile by the door, packed tight
and zipped, a sound we know too well.

Your secrets are our secrets.
They always will be.

Nevertheless, the door shuts firm behind you.
Do not forget the way we held you for these years.


Things I’ve Learned in the Past Few Months

1. Wildfires are big and scary and fast moving.

2. Clean air is not something to be taken granted.

3. There is a lot of joy to be found in this world. The sun keeps shining and you’re still breathing. Keep searching, my friend.

4. Generosity is not something we take or give. We share it, between us. “Let me make you this tasty drink for free because you are fighting day and night to put out a fire. See now how we both feel better?”

5. The ocean is always moving, and it’s so beautiful, and unforgiving.

6. There is a big castle on a hill in the Central Coast of California whose joy is still emanating from the walls. You can feel the architect, a revolutionary woman, smiling through the tapestries of the old walls. You can still hear a bit of an echo of the owner, laughing.

7. Distance can make the heart grow fonder, but also, less sympathetic.

8. An iced americano with just a touch of vanilla syrup can be life changing, some mornings.

9. I’m living a blessed life. I’m trying everyday to not forget.

I’m Done.

For a long time, I’ve had a quote taped to my wall that reads, “I will respect your opinion as long as your opinion doesn’t disrespect anyone else’s existence.”

I don’t think many things are black and white, but I think this motto of mine is pretty darn close.

I will respect your belief that we should have lower taxes. I will respect your belief that tattoos aren’t okay. I will respect your belief that pineapple on pizza is disgusting. I will respect those beliefs because they do not disrespect anyone else’s existence as a human on the planet.

I am done respecting and trying to make peace with people who want to kick people out of the country. I will not respect the opinion that the LGBTQ+ community is delusional or wrong or needs to ‘get over it.’ I will not respect the denial of human rights like safety, health, and love. I will not respect these opinions because they are disrespecting the very essence of someone’s existence.

That is not okay.

I will not, and can not and should not, respect your opinion if it disrespects anyone else’s existence. Period.

The Start of Something New (it feels just right…?)

On Thursday, I graduated from high school.

I left the world of high school, supposedly governed by grades and papers galore. I left the world of high school, supposedly governed by late nights and stress. And to a degree, that was true for me. In high school, I developed 24/7 migraines, as a result of stress; I stayed up many a night completing papers; and I did battle the vicious rule of numbers in a gradebook.

Primarily though, I was fortunate enough, blessed enough, to have a high school experience that was good, and good in the deepest way that I can mean it. Good because it grew me.

I went to a school populated by teachers who cared about me; they wanted to see me thrive and they tried to diminish the power of grades, as much was in their power.

I went to a school full of people who love one another and strive to encourage love as much as humanly possible.

I was surrounded by a group of friends who taught me a new way of moving in the world, a new way of walking through the garden that is my life. I was surrounded by hard-working, honest, determined, dedicated, and intelligent people.

That said, my overwhelming feeling is sadness. I am sad to be leaving high school. I am sad. I don’t know how to make this a less cliché or less vulnerable of a statement, but I am leaving this place a changed person.

As I move on to the next stage of my life, a new year and a new culture and a new continent, I hope you can join me. I hope you can join, because God only knows how much guidance and love I will need from every corner of this globe.

Welcome to this journey. In the words of the Shrunken Head on the most humble of vehicles, the Knight Bus, “It’s gonna be a bumpy ride!”


PS: If you don’t know what the Knight Bus is, please find out before you join the joureny. 😉

Sunday Morning

Our neighbors want to go to church with us, so on Sunday morning we meet them in the parking lot: a man, his daughter and son. We climb in the car; the small girl with a dark bob and wide eyes sits beside my mom. The boy, older than his sister, long and lean, rests against the window, his hands clasped in his lap.

The father is a kind Indian man with manicured hands and a soft, confident voice. He tells of the bus accident that “killed terty people” and of conflict in his homeland, Kashmir; his native tongue and his kids’ school; his Kenyan home and his wife’s parents. He laughs often: a loud, matter-of-fact sound, as if there is nothing to do but laugh.

My mom asks the children questions and they answer quietly. My brother and I sit in the back, eyes out the windows. He pokes fun at my poetry and I do not explain to him that I am trying to remember that every moment is miraculous.

We pull into the church yard. The chilly morning is new in the tea fields far from home. We climb out of the car – worship already at our fingertips.