I spent a fair bit of the day by myself, lounging near the pool in my Speedo. The teens were at the far end but I pretty much left them alone. They needed to be with their friends.
I like being alone but this was very different from what the last week has given me. No little ones gathering around, although both Ali and Ansou made an appearance. It was basically me and my book – God’s Ecstasy by Beatrice Bruteau. It felt like I was spending time with a friend but the printed page was no substitute for real live human beings.
The kids were chattering away in Flemish. I didn’t know what they were saying but I could tell there was a lot of bugging each other. Every once in awhile the voices would explode in silliness. And lots of cannonball jumps into the pool. I sat back and smiled as I tried to figure out Beatrice’s spiritual ideas.
Ansou came to sit beside me for awhile. He wore Jayla’s yarn bracelet that I gave him on New Year’s Day. I wore the beaded one that Ansou’s brother Ali had given me. Friendship across the many miles that seem to separate our lives. Mostly, Ansou and I just sat. Language-wise, we don’t really understand each other. But there are other ways.
I want to come back to Senegal. I want to learn French so that I can talk to my friends and listen to their wisdom. And then there are my Belgian friends. I sit entranced by the music of their Flemish words but I don’t know what they’re saying. I want to know what they’re saying.
Eva told me yesterday that six months from now, there’d be no way I could participate in a Flemish conversation, even if I studied like crazy between now and then. All I would have accomplished is knowing some words. Hmm. Could she be wrong?
You see, Lydia talked to me a few days ago about me joining Jo, Anya, Curd and her in Italy in July. She thoroughly and smilingly invited me! Oh my God, I belong … and I want to speak Flemish. If you had told me a year ago that I’d be gung ho to learn two new languages, I’d have said “You’re crazy.”
During the day’s quiet adventures, Mareama walked into the room. Her beautiful braids were gone! C’est dommage. How could she cut her gorgeous hair? I asked her that. She looked at me funny.
A few minutes later, one of the women in our family (I can’t remember who) quietly told me “Mareama took her wig off. Most Senegalese women wear wigs.” Oh.
Life here in Africa continues to amaze and delight me. I want to go home … and yet I am home.