I will no longer be commuting to Africa for my job. I've decided not to go back. My phase of the project was finished, and while there may have been other opportunities to stay involved, it is really good to be home, to stay home, to have my life back.
In a revelation, I have arrived at the conviction that if I'm going to "suffer" (I mean, really, that's dramatic. I wasn't dying over there, but I was away from the fullness of my life, the interactions that warm my heart, the continuity that I've built for myself)... if I'm going to "suffer" (okay, so by suffer, I mean risk. If I'm going to desperately miss people and events, if I'm going to challenge myself, if I'm going to stretch further than is comfortable, if I'm going out on the limb)... if I'm going to "suffer" for my work... then that work should be writing. I owe it to myself. I owe it to my work. Steinbeck would be proud, though he's a little distant from me right now, as my original "Travels with Charley" remains on its own adventure in Tanzania. Hopefully, he'll find his way home. Steinbeck and Charley have prove quite resourceful in the past.
I will desperately miss Africa. There's a Tanzanian shaped indent left by the loss. I am different. I had no choice. I miss the wild, the monkeys, the mongoose, the sunrise. I don't miss the weird bugs especially, but I do miss the option of a surprise every day. I will miss finding out what kind of fruit my favorite tree produces and how the project finishes out. I already miss tea with the ladies and afternoon walks with Ina and Swahili lessons with Lydia. We all still keep in touch and I wouldn't be surprised if I run into them again someday. Just not today.
My life goes on without Africa. Africa goes on without me. I still write, gold is still mined. Superficially, so little is changed. And still. All the changes that matter have occurred. I am different. My perspective is forever altered. And other people are changed as well. I made it better, for a little while. Friendships were forged, and some old ones grown stronger. I did a good thing, and I am proud of that.