Here, I find myself walking on the road to Kilembe early in the morning with someone who knows how to hear me.
Here, I find myself turning 48 years old, taking selfies with my phone to capture my new haircut, wondering at the lines around my eyes, the shape of my face and how it’s changed over the past decade, maybe in a way that only I notice. Wondering if anyone else sees.
Here, I find myself holding a tiny ugandan girl who is frightened of me as a white person, whom I keep trying to win over, whose mother says “I give her to you too — you are her other mother.”
Here, I find myself family with this random collection of 5 dozen Ugandan and Rwandan people, Auntie Cate, Uwaduhaye Cate, named by Andrew and Kagame as “the one who gave us.”
Here I find myself alone in my home in Toronto, truly here and home for the first time in 7 years of wandering and trekking and trying on novel, uncomfortable, awkward costumes that never quite fit, felt like they’d been worn by many others, like the hijab they provided at the Gaddafi mosque in Kampala. Holding my head up carefully to keep strange headdresses on, thrilled with the challenge, never relaxed. Home, wondering what it means to be able to know I’ll be here more than three Tuesday nights in a row. What “home” means when I’m not trying to speak a dialect that my tongue can’t wrap itself around.
Here I find myself thinking about all of the places the last ten years have brought me, the nooks of the world I never dreamed I’d encounter. Two people in Day of the Dead makeup in a Walgreens in the Arizona desert. In the light green spare bedroom of the woman I held hands with as we got our PhDs, vaguely carsick from brilliant oysters shucked and eaten on the edge of the Pacific followed by a bottle of local sonoma sauvignon and a twisty car ride. A 12 course meal tasting menu in a michelin restaurant in the Lake District, food at its essence, the excess sending me into the frosty night to gasp for air and balance. An eyrie in Portland a five minute run from the bouquet of bridges, that sheltered me when I needed it, cocooned me into writing and finding voice when I needed space and solace. Trying to make a home in a sweet white cottage at the edge of the sea where sunsets bathed my bed. Having a hand and foot massage under the stars in the Arizona desert, squinting for the ones that are falling, in the home of my late mentor, his wife blossomed into a precious, unexpected gem of a friend. A pause button of a suburban house in Rochester, New York. A sprawl of a house on a green wet English hill surrounded by sheep, cuddled by cats. Fainting in the Louvre, ill with dengue fever. Underwater, breathing. Tracking polar bears in the Norwegian arctic, and jaguars in the breathless flats of Brazil, and sandhill cranes in the New Mexico desert. Broad white beds, and ships’ berths, and bunkbeds in a treehouse. Looking through my camera, through binoculars, collecting passport stamps and interpretive repertoires and ways of knowing,
Unpacking, looking around, feeling what is within arm’s length of where I started out, filtered fresh.