As a rule, I usually don’t have a problem with “goodbye” if I’m the one doing the leaving. My departure often places me in a position of power – one in which I have pity on the person(s) being left, because they are going to miss me after all, and not necessarily vice versa. This time was different. I spent the last few days in South Africa in a veritable funk. We were flying out the following Sunday, and I was mentally exhausted from gobbling up the last sunsets and sunrises, the smell of the ocean and gulping my last breaths of the smog-free air. And then there was my new extended family.
Mainee left on Thursday with glistening eyes and a wry smile. I said my goodbyes, squeezing the word through a tight throat. As she fussed over the final details of her cleaning, pausing to make sure Stone and Liya were fed and changed at all times, I wondered how I was going to survive my return to Atlanta where wahala was waiting for me.
Recession wahala. Church wahala. Traffic wahala. Douche Bag wahala. Wahala, wahala, wahala!
The ASP kids had put on a special show for us as the next day. I managed to sit through the performance without bursting into tears. Their songs seemed more in harmony and they had added some flair to their standard performances. My kids had learned the moves and were singing along with their new friends from the seats. Stone managed to sneak on “stage” so that he could acheche along with the first and second grade girls. I was doing well until Fezi asked us to come up and say some words to the kids. I was surprised that words had failed me so abysmally, and I only managed to tell them that I would miss them and to remember to add their numbers in the appropriate numbers and to carry their ones.
On Saturday we took our last trip to Sedgefield market and had a pleasant drama-free breakfast for once. Well, apart from the guy who dropped his scrambled eggs ALL OVER NADJAH. I have never seen a White man apologize so profusely.
“It’s okay!” I laughed. “I’m sure you didn’t intend to share your breakfast with her.”
He muttered something at his wife, who replied with “Uh, uh! Don’t you DARE try to blame me for that!”
We lazily browsed the market, picked up some fudge and cookies and left for George one last time. Brittany appeared like a jack-in-a-box and took us along on one of her White adventures. By happenstance, she stopped at a bridge so we could take in the view. Looking into the clear blue ocean, we saw something floating along the surface. A pod of whales – and only 200 yards from shore! With nowhere to be and nothing else to do, we watched them for a full hour, delighted by flipper after flipper that broke the surface as they exfoliated themselves on the sandy bottom.
South Africa did its best to soften the blow for me. The municipality turned our water off from Friday to Sunday, and I to take a bath with a wet wipe for 2 days. Any water we had was used to ‘bathe’ the kids. Despite the inconvenience, it was still hard to say goodbye to my summer love. The whole experience was like meeting a smoking hot dude who spent 3 months showing me things I’d never seen and doing things I have never done. It was truly a love affair.
And like all summer romances, my heart finally broke and I was degraded to a blubbering heap come Sunday morning.
This Sunday was the only one that feature rain when we showed up. We were asked to give a few parting words.
I’m an iceberg, I’m an iceberg… I chanted silently.
The iceberg cracked and shattered. Oh I snotted and snorted my way through how much I was going to miss the kids and my new friends, who had in truth, become more like family. In true African fashion, many of the women had asked me a few days before what I was going to leave for them, and had done me the honor of wearing some of the items I’d relinquished to church that day. It was cute seeing some women squeeze into my shirts and others swim in them.
Monday morning, the water finally came on and I was grateful to have a proper shower before my hellish flight. Give me a minute and I’ll tell you about THAT.