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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Out of Africa

For my 100th blog post, nothing could be more apropos than the fact that I’m writing this from the Amsterdam airport during my layover back to the US – my move home. I’ve had 3 hours of sleep and 2 glasses of wine so emotionally driven content level is high. So much has happened in the past couple of weeks – it was pretty bat shit busy for me getting things packed up, saying goodbye to friends, wrapping up personal business, and still working full time etc. I didn’t have much time to sit and write.

Madness preceded this scene. One of me, 8 suitcases, most of which had broken zippers.

I am having a hard time putting into words how amazing the past 2 years in Kenya has been. I know it’s so overdone to come back from some period of being away and claim to be all changed – BS right?...And pretty annoying to most readers. But honestly, sincerely, I do believe people can be deeply changed by their environment and circumstances – but this is not an “I traveled to Africa and now understand the meaning of life” –This has nothing to do with orphans or poverty or anything of the likes ;-) – What this is, is an, ”I stepped away from my normal routine and environment for a couple years and there are things I have realized because of it and the people I have met” story.

Being away from the expectations and pressures of society at home, being away from all my places of habit and conditioned responses and away from all those predetermined roles that I’ve adopted from childhood experiences – and meeting some amazing people who I got to be very close with - I think it sort of enabled me to iinstinctually just be who I am with no trepidation - like an unadulterated version of myself. I think I realized how much I was trying to adapt to societal expectations and stifle my personal statement to fit in in DC – it’s a breath of fresh air to have some clarity. I do feel somehow a bit more pristine and definitely more content – And I’ll say most of these I can attribute to specific people and I am forever grateful - others I learned from the entity that is Nairobi and others just from myself.

So if you’re still reading after all that jibber jabber (sorry) - None of it is earth shattering but here are the things I’ve picked up about myself (or confirmed) and pray to hold on to as I move back to where I was before:

I love wearing big earrings and cheap market jewelry, I’m not really into pearls or Tiffany’s or anything else someone else is already wearing (ME);

Having fewer material possessions piled around you can bring peace and simplicity (Nairobi)

There is so much crap I don’t need out there and if it wasn’t advertised in my face every day, I wouldn’t buy it and I wouldn’t miss it either (Nairobi).

I like to connect with new people , hear their stories and let them in; and I’m gonna smile at you when we pass, even if you grumble back or act like you didn’t notice me (ME);

Whatever’s in my closet is probably sufficient (Nairobi);

I do not worry about whether I look or act “my age”- I will probably feel 25 forever (Graham, Candice, Megan, byu);

I love my long hair and probably wont be getting it cut any time soon;

I love feeling community with the village that I live in (by village I mean, my physical community, neighbors, etc)(Rebecca ,Ndishu, Wilson, Joel, Sandlewood);

There’s nothing wrong with hanging out on Sunday nights even if you have to work the next day (Nairobi) ;

I need a group of people (not necessarily family) that I can call “home” and vice versa (NES friends) ;

I like having an open house policy regardless of how messy the place is or that it means you won’t get your downtime (Nairobi);

Downtime can also mean friend time (byu);

I am socially awkward but it makes people laugh so it’s good (Scott);

I want to be done doing things out of obligation or guilt – it’s being dishonest anyways;

I will air my dirty laundry to a friend I just met and I want them to do the same (Megan/Emma);

Allow Plan A to change if it needs to, even if plan B is not fully in tact (Emma)

I like hearing people sing from the pit of their soul (Rose);

it’s okay to stay out really late once in a while even in your 30s (byu, Rose, Candice);

It’s okay to constantly be trying to figure out what to do with your life and how to get there (Frannie, Megan, ME);

I want to work really hard for something I have incredible passion for, even if I don’t get paid for it (yet ;-);

I want to be someone that makes others feel good about themselves – in the end they will never forget you for it (Ash)

To hell with the schedule, shit will happen (Nairobi);

I have to be authentic – small talk makes me nervous (ME);

I know that each person is fighting their own battle even if their life appears perfect, so I’m gonna stop judging so damn much and start supporting people more (LIFE, Tara);

I’m not the type that sends cards but it makes people feel damn good so I will, not out of obligation but out of love (Byu)

I LOVE making people laugh cause sharing a joke is the easiest way to bridge differences and make you familiar (ME);

I want to be someone that goes out of my way to give someone a ride (Scott);

I want to learn to go out of your way in general, not out of guilt but out of love (also Scott);

Be exactly who you are (also Scott/Megan);

Say yes to doing more stuff (byu);

I want to live a life filled with stories and have friends everywhere - I don’t want life to just be about professional achievements and my immediate family – (for this to happen to have to say yes more as seen above)(Nairobi);

I love talking to a total stranger that crosses my path because so often it has made my entire day (see above “life filled with stories”.. as in buying a beer for a Congolese Catholic Priest at the Airport a few hours ago)(ME);

I am learning that I am self-fulfilled and whole and adequate just as I am on this planet and I must stay grounded to that so my core isn’t shaken every time life changes or someone casts judgment or hurts me (Daksha)(ok this one is a process..but I guess these are all processes) –

So, that’s it. I mean, that's not it - it's just what I have figured out so far. It was a pleasure sharing my Nairobi experience with you all over the past 2 years on this blog. I'll post some photos later of the past two weeks and the relocation experience.

Thanks to all of you in Nairobi that made it home. I miss you guys.


  1. Lenna, you are a pure, shining diamond!! your mum should be so proud of you.... Love you

  2. Come on, I taught you more than that. I miss you and Sergio already. You really have a bright future ahead of you ;-)


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