Twenty years ago today, I moved to South Africa with a couple of overweight suitcases, $200 in my pocket, and a heart-cocktail of naïvety, faith, passion, and foolishness. I was only 19.
Thirteen years later, I moved back Stateside with even heavier baggage (both literal and proverbial), more debt than cash, and a heart-cocktail that had been diluted by life and loss and longing.
Even with all the complicated layers and conflicting emotions, Africa will always be my first love. I met her when I was just 15, and, in that way that only she can do, she swept me off my feet and stole my heart. She was my high school sweetheart, and she holds both the bests and the worsts of my life in the years we spent together.
Twenty years. How is that even possible? Two decades seem to have slipped through my fingers like the Kalahari sand...
My present life looks so different than the one I lived on African soil. It confounds me, really. Many who know me now didn’t know me then, which only widens the chasm I often feel exists between my former and current lives. And yet, I know, it’s all one. One life. One incongruently interconnected and magnificent life. It confounds me, really.
No matter how long I’ve lived Stateside, this day still feels beautifully and painfully significant to me. And so I stop to honor it. To embrace it. To celebrate and grieve it.
Happy Africaversary, love. Twenty years is worth dancing and crying over. So let’s do a little of both, shall we?