When I left Kenya a year ago, I thought I’d be back shortly after the New Year. I envisioned going home to California for the fall, catching up with friends after nearly two years abroad, then celebrating the holidays with my boyfriend and family. Sometime in January I’d return to Kenya to complete my M.A. and start exploring how I could stay involved with projects here while formally starting afresh in Seattle.
Oh how life has a way of uprooting even the best-laid plans.
One year, multiple break-ups, a healthy dose of reverse culture shock and two moves later, I’m finally back in Nairobi for a bit. While I’m working on evolving to that blissful plateau where “everything happens for a reason,” my heart and head are still in recovery mode as I reacquaint myself with the most recent place I lived with any sort of rhythm or routine.
The rhythm of Nairobi has, of course, changed for me in the past year. I no longer have a house of my own here, or a car – heck, it took me three days to get a phone set up! Still, even as I return a bit of an “outsider” to daily life, each day brings new reminders of all that made life so sweet (and sometimes sour) in this place I still consider home.
Thankfully, I don’t have to both reacquaint myself and get ready to say goodbye immediately – after almost two weeks in Kenya I’m headed to Ghana for a fellowship and will come back in January for seven weeks to finish writing my thesis. So for now, I’m focused on seeing friends (saving some for January’s return), revisiting favorite activities like salsa and movie nights, and taking time every day to taste the food I’ve missed so much…while giving my quickly adapting waistline a break!
Coming back to Kenya didn’t happen according to my original plans, and life certainly hasn’t unfolded the way I expected it to when I left last year. Still, by the time I boarded the plane to return to Nairobi a couple of weeks ago, I had reconnected with my roots in the culture, friendships and family that are unique to my hometown in Cali once again. As I do the same here in Nairobi I can’t help but feel that my cup runneth over. Despite the challenges and heartbreak of the past year, the truth is I have friends and family on both sides of the world who take me as I am, even when my plans and time tables fall apart. Whichever direction I fly, I’m home-bound in one way or another.