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Ever Expanding Family

April 17, 2012

Jamal’s face in the middle is truly the best. “Jamal crazy!” I tell the other kids almost daily. He just cackles.

After school five of my 12th grade girls followed me from campus.  “Where are you going?” I asked.  They smiled, “With you!  We’re your family now.”  I’d said that in class last week on the brink of tears.  Maybe they really do listen.

As I shuffled in to town, however, I began to feel discouraged.  I was lonely and sad.  I ate my rice alone and walked to Roni’s more to see a friendly face than because I needed to change money.  He’s good to me.  The day before Krista left I went in the shop and he just shook his head, “Don’t bring that sad face in here, sweetie.  I don’t want to see it.”  I laughed and he agreed to let me shop.

Today he was sitting in front of the counter looking tired.  I walked in and he immediately read my mind.  “Are you ok?”  I shrugged, “Tired.”  He changed my money and told me to sit and have a soft drink.  I declined but he shouted at one of the workers to give me an energy drink.  I carried it to the club and drank it with a beer, which left my body confused, buzzed but mellow.  A man with long dreadlocks and good English sat down across from me, “Can I talk to you?”  I shook my head, “I’m sorry.  I’m not having a good day.”  He paused, noticed my watery eyes, and left.  I felt rude afterward because it’s never that easy to reject men here… maybe he was actually a nice guy.  I’m sure he’ll be back.

I read my book and wasted as much time as I could before collecting my laptop from Phone Garden.  Justin Beiber was blasting inside and I sang along with the three guys working, “When I was thurteeeen I had my first luuuuve!”  I’m so grateful for how many nice people live here, how many people have taken me in as friend and family.  I stopped to hug almost every kid between town and my house then my own kids tore across the yard to greet me.  “RB na come!  RB na come!”  I unlocked the office and we had a dance party.  Then for some reason they all ran into the yard to show me they could do somersaults and headstands.  I clapped and cheered from the porch and prayed no one would get hurt.

I brought out the Frisbee and they ran screaming around the yard, Rihanna and Akon still bumping from the porch.  A truck pulled up.  Roni.  He got out laughing, “You are enjoying?”  I smiled, “Trying.  The kids don’t let me feel lonely.”  He playfully kicked a few of them in the butt then laughed, looked at me like I was crazy and, shaking his head, said something in Arabic.  “I just passed to check on you.”  I shook his hand with the cleanest snap I’ve had with a white person, “Thank you, Roni.”

I meant it.

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