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Tiny Cups of Freedom

July 25, 2011

Luke pretends to hide from me.

My head hurt all afternoon. Dull and aching up through my neck. I could tell I was holding my breath, clenching my jaw, churning my stomach. The day drug on and all I wanted was to lie down. I came home and dinner wasn’t ready so I sat on the porch as long as I could before retreating to my room. Just as I got sprawled on my mat with a pile of lapas under my head, Princess knocked.

Red oil soup. Sigh.

After dinner I wanted to walk with Princess and shop for 26th presents, but I didn’t know where she was so I went on my own. I was out of Laughing Cow so I walked to AB’s to get some and something cold to drink. It was refreshing not to need my Liberian English or to bargain (even though he always gives me a discount anyway). I got a nice cold Coke and wandered down the road toward Lango Town.

A woman called me over to sher “shop” and I bought bracelets for Esther and Princess (even though I’m pretty sure she ripped me off bad). I kept walking and all of a sudden a mob of young men filled the street shouting and chanting. I was pushed to the side and a caravan passed, a man hanging out of the sunroof of the lead car. It was George Weah, Ellen’s big rival in the election. This wasn’t somewhere I should be so I was glad they kept driving and the crowd dissipated.

The market crowd was thick and rowdy in anticipation of tomorrow’s holiday, but I felt relaxed and glad to be out. Seven weeks ago I would have been overwhelmed, nervous, out of place. But I wove through the crowd greeting people, chatting, enjoying my soft drink and a small sense of freedom.

The sun was starting to set so I cut back past Matt’s house and was winding home when I ran into David and Esther going for coal. I asked if I could join them and we retraced my steps to the market. David bought a bag of coal and I wandered over to a table of ‘smal tins.’ Esther read my mind and scampered over eagerly, David close behind. I bought stick candy and surprise toy candy (Chinese Easter eggs) for everyone and we headed back. The secret toy was really lame–everyone got the same doll-size plastic cup–but they loved it and we literally played with them all night.

They are such good kids. I worry I buy too much for them lately, but they work so hard for so little and they bring me so much joy. I have to enjoy having a family while I can! It will be hard to spoil only half a dozen kids at site. I won’t be able to say “Dis my broler” or “Dese my sistas” when they swarm with hands out.

They’ve given up bedrooms and meal portions for me, drawing extra water and washing extra dishes. And they never say no or complain, even when I seem to be embarrassing (although I think I might just be cool sometimes). For the 26th I got lapas for my mom, ol’ ma, and auntie. They’re all fine-o! It was so crazy in the market I didn’t manage to get the stick candy for my brothers. I’ll figure something out tomorrow. I still have a few things from home and besides, I just bought them a football and made benne seed candy!

I’m behind on lesson plans for model school, but everything will happen somehow. Life moves forward. I honor the progress I’ve made.

Luke performs the 'chicken dance' I taught him. His main chore is catching all the ducks and chickens at night so he delights in strutting his new moves.

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