For Valentine's Day, I will play along with "A Dozen Roses Contest"
|Write a blog/journal entry (or a static item equivalent to that) explaining your feelings about love, whether good or bad. I want real, raw, honest answers.
I learned about Love in Africa. I was twenty-eight years old at the time. Old enough, it would seem, to have an abundance of love in my life. But this wasn’t the case. Looking back, I realize it was a make or break moment. A love-less existence has atrophied my heart beyond recognition, so the decision to traipse halfway across the globe had been an easy one to make. My fierce independence kept me on the move anyhow, and my standing record at that point for time spent in one city was only two years. I kept friends and lovers at arms length; a restless desire to wander trumped any relationship I made. I realized I fit the Peace Corps glove wholly, and besides, it was a two year commitment. Perfect.
I arrived in the Central African Republic prepared to help usher the native population toward a modern world of vaccinations and rendering of potable drinking water, and instead it was in their midst that the most fundamental human emotion – Love – finally warmed my icy soul.
First, I missed my family. It shocked and mystified me. My parents, the original perpetrators who robbed me of a happy childhood among other things, became forgivable in my esteem. With little effort, I let our past drop into the ocean that separated us.
Second, I met my husband, who loved me in a pure, organic way with a love that always was and always will be. It was wonderful and undeniable. It still is today.
Lastly, the image of the African woman with her child had a crazy, perspective-altering effect on my sensibilities. Where before my idea of motherhood had been polluted by images of perspiring, stressed out, white Reebok clad women in suit dresses with quilted diaper bags slung over their shoulders and a wailing baby on their hips, here was a calm, natural portrait of a soft mama and a giggling child. As sudden as a light switched on in a dark room, I wanted the experience, down to my core.
It’s ironic that as the many facets of multi-dimensional Love were sinking in for the first time in my life, I was simultaneously learning to express myself in a new language. In the African dialect, Sango, spoken in the country where I was, there is no word that translates neatly for “Love.” The closest word they use is “ye” [yay]. The sentence: Mbi ye mo is used to express I love you; I like you; I need you; and I want you.
Funny. The people I truly love today: my husband, my two children, family members and friends, I can say with honesty that I love them, I like them, I need them, and I want them with me every day of my life.
Mbi ye i kwe. [I love/like/need/want them.]
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