Walking back to my car, the morning heat in October is suffocating. It’s the first time I’ve been alone in a while and so rather than blinking back the tears I let them come. They are warm and tingly as they run down my face, like standing in the rain.
And there isn’t any big deal. So what if we have lived here two months and I still don’t know my way around town and so drove around lost for the last 20 minutes? Who cares if I finally made it to the farmer’s market just as it was closing and didn’t actually get to bring home my grass-fed beef bones and organic papayas?
I’ll survive it.
It’s just that I’m tired of feeling out of place and I’m weary of being alone. I long to fit in, to be settled, to call anything around me familiar. Every street sign, every face, every humid breeze, they all seem to say, “you don’t belong here, this isn’t your place.” And so I sit in the car and weep, it has been a long time coming and it feels good.
. . .
My husband and I volunteer with a shelter that houses new immigrants. Today we took some of the Ethiopian refugees to church and invited them back to our house for lunch. Samira came with her 4 month old baby and 5 year old son. We chatted while our kids played and she told me about traveling for 6 months, about sleeping on the floor in detainment while 9 months pregnant, about her husband in prison, and how she was waiting to hear word from her family about him any day.
And I knew if suffering could be quantified, certainly hers was worse than mine. She may never return to the country where she was born. The sights and smells, the language, the people, as much as she adjusts, will never feel quite like home. And here she is alone caring for her sons, one who has not yet met his own father.
I wish I could say that I was selfless enough to let her story lift me out of my own self-pity. Instead I clung to my dejection, afraid I wouldn’t recognize myself if I let it go. We sat together, two moms from different worlds, eating apples and laughing at our kids, our pain boxed up neatly inside. Yet knowing that we were not quite as alone as we had been an hour before.
Both thinking that though it wasn’t much, for today it was enough.
Thanks for being here.