Thursday, December 13, 2012

A New Normal

A week ago, I was walking along the road on my way back from Saturday work at the church and I suddenly stopped. In front of me there stood a normal-size house with a small square green front lawn. It completely baffled me, and then I felt more confused wondering why it had. I’m sure it seemed strange that a lone mzungu was just standing in the middle of the street staring at a random house, but I lingered to inspect the scene more. I looked around and noticed that there was freshly turned dirt along the border of the lawn and on the side rested old metal and bricks- the remnants of their wall of fencing. It slowly came into clearer focus why this was all so interesting: the house looked like any house on any street back home in the US. Just there, unprotected by any wall or fence. I could actually see its green lawn and small shrub of pink flowers, which was what had confused me first. A green lawn instead of dirt or cement or mud. But I have a green lawn in my little plot around my house, so why was this different? Because I could see it. Every house here sits behind tall walls of security and secrecy. Either that or it will be a house made of mud, cardboard, or dung. A house with cement floors, however, well that’s worth protecting from peeping and hungry eyes. This house had nothing to hide behind while they were repairing its walls. “Imagine that,” I thought, “A house with a little lawn just sitting for everyone to see…. Just like at home.”

A week ago, the rains really started. I’ve been training to run a 5k, however, so as I stared out the windows of my warm cozy music room I considered the pros and cons of running in the heavy rain that afternoon.  “Common, just do it!” my audacious piano student urged me, knowing I had been training and knowing what was going through my mind at that moment. So, after her lesson I tied up my shoes and splashed into the wet grass and mud. By my fifth lap around the track I was feeling thirsty, so I randomly opened my mouth to the heavens to get a taste of rain. But suddenly I stopped myself, and then I had to stop and wonder why I stopped myself. Well, the water here is often not safe for me to drink- the water from the river, the water from the tap, the water from the shower. I remember back home in the US sometimes I would drink the water falling down from above in the shower. Maybe this is odd, I have no idea, as I’ve never really discussed it with any one. But at least you know that if you accidentally get some water in your mouth it’s not a big deal. But here, when in the shower, I keep my mouth closed tight because I don’t want to end up not feeling well from the water. So as I stood in my grey, damp clothes in the rain, I thought what a sad thing it is that my instinct is to assume the fresh rain toxic. And then I thought… isn’t this something? This clean water leaves its burdened cloud, plummets for miles in the sky clean and pure, and the moment it hits the earth here, it becomes septic. But, as I opened my mouth once again and felt the rain on my face, I decided I would at least get to save a few of these clean drops.

If you haven’t seen this awesome video from the fabulous Bienmoyo Foundation and the song that I wrote for them, please check it out:

In other news, I go home for Christmas on Wednesday and I couldn’t be more excited.