Original post published in NomadicWonderings.com in October 2017.
Every day I ask myself, “What are we doing here?” Of course there are answers. Rational ones.
We needed to find a consistantly stimulating and supportive educative situation for the kids. We wanted to let our kids experience living in a developed nation again. We wanted them to have more creative and academic opportunities. I needed to find my creative tribe. And to begin creating again with my creative tribe. We wanted to stay some place for a while. To not ‘need’ to move after three years. Maybe even feel at home.
Plus our choices were limited. Husband can mostly only work in war zones or countries where the conversation oscilates around famine and drought.
There are actually lots of really good rational reasons for us moving our family to NYC.
But day by day. Man, It feels hard.
And to those of you thinking “Gee Em get over yourself. You live in New York city.” I have this to say.
Try it. For more than two weeks. Really. Then kindly comment.
It was always going to be a discombobulating experience moving from Malawi to NYC. We knew that. And we knew that each of us would need to make our own journey, would have our own battleground to navigate through. We don’t get to always choose how our hearts respond. Not in the beginning anyways. We pull our hat down low, and our scarf up high and we plough into it. And it bites our skin and rattles our bones. A wild and unpredictable, elemental offensive. Onwards we go.
But nothing could prepare us for the transition between two such extremes.
The first weeks were almost comical. Not when we were in it – clearly, but in retrosect.
How do you take three kids from the bush of Africa where they climbed mango trees barefoot, and whittled sticks til dusk. Where they spent hour upon hour chasing gheko’s and picking worms out of guava’s, to a symphonic backdrop of crickets and bullfrogs…
How do you then drop them in the middle of an throbbing urban metroplis, where homeless people lay strewn across the sidewalks, discarded like trash (Esi’s question – Why are the white people sleeping in the streets mummy?) Where the subway roars like the very embodiment of rage, and they share the carriage with scantily clad women with rainbow afro’s and exposed nipple to nose, chain-linked peircings, drinking beer.
It has made for interesting conversations.
The children at school who have same sex parents – This was a new concept for our bush kids. The guys expressing themselves in womens clothing – This was confusing, to begin with. The beat box guys with their trousers slung low, breaking rules – They had to learn not to be intimidated. That creative expression is not intended as aggression.
We like those conversations. We like throwing back the question ‘Well what do you think?” or “How did it make you feel?”We like standing on the edges watching our kids wrestle to make sense of life. Of people.
These conversations help to remind me why we are here. They don’t make it easier, but they help me to remember.
Husband and I are commited to raising strong, resilient, kind, open minded and wholehearted children. Kids who will stand in the gap and say ‘Not on my watch’. Not on my watch, through conversation. Not on my watch, through debate. Not on my watch, through Art and creativity. Not on my watch through non-violent acts of resistance. Not on my watch through making hard personal choices for the sake of a bigger picture. Not on my watch through choosing kindness in the face of the mean.
We have chosen to show them the world in all its diversity, with its cracks and its astounding beauty. We want them to know that we can be smitten by the glory of an African sunset or lost in the sublimity of Moonlight Sonata – that these things are there for us, to inspire us, to lift us and to remind us of Love.
And that because of Love we don’t step over the broken people. Not ever.
Not. On. My. Watch.
I promised myself I wasn’t going to get political here. But I guess I just did. In my opinion, the only way to not have opinions about what is going on right now, politicaly, is to be, actually dead.
I don’t think that when we chose this transigent lifestyle, we chose an easy path. Maybe we didn’t choose it at all. Maybe life chooses us. Or maybe it is not the choosing that matters but rather our response that matters.
Whatever. Wherever. Perhaps.
I live in New York City. For now. And It feels hard.
Apartment living feels hard. The pace feels hard. The aggression feels hard. The competition feels hard. The lack of community feels hard. The communal laundry room in the basement of our building feels hard. The cold wind splitting down 1st avenue feels hard. Darn it, even the grocery shopping feels hard. And yes, the political atmosphere feels hard.
But this is my now. And I choose my response to my now, daily.
I struggle. I fight. At times I scream and pound. And then - I submit. We really don’t have a choice. And yet, in that submitting we do choose. Again and again. We choose to Love. Paradoxical really.
This is my now. Despite the daily toil, I believe it has purpose. I have things I must learn. I have growing to do that is assigned personally to me.
And so, I breath. I say “It’s okay’. And I tap into that small voice at the end of the day that says, I will try again tomorrow.
This is where I share snippets of my life. Some of it writing related, some of it just - life. It will be mostly ramblings, but if you too are a storyteller and are very lucky, you might occasionally find something useful :)