Thursday, September 24, 2009

Embracing Solitude

7am. I was still asleep. Phone rings. I turned and saw an unregistered number. Reflex hit the ignored button. 30 seconds later, it rings again. This time, my conscious told me this may actually be about work, so I answered it. Still half asleep, I somehow managed to converse in French with a lady calling to see when in the world I would be visiting her library. Assuring her I didn't forget about her village, I rolled over and thought, "oh goodness".

Recently, I decided I would go back to school after my Peace Corps stint. Suddenly, I went from sufficiently occupied to actually running after time. I had actually forgotten what it was like to prioritize my tasks. At the end of October, I will be resitting for the GRE. So now I'm not only bugging everyone on the cyber space about my nutty project, I am also cramming my brain with obscene number of esoteric GRE vocabularies and brushing up on the Pythagorean theorem, and calculating the probability of coins turning face up when tossed.

With these two activities, I now currently spend more than half of my time in front of the computer. Suddenly, the obscene amount of time it takes to do dishes, laundry, shower, cook, etc becomes extremely bothersome. Before when I didn't have a lot to do, those tasks filled up my time. Now, I remember why I never cooked back in the states, other than the fact I didn't know how. I've been eating a lot of grilled fish & baton de manioc as of late, and that's going to get real old, real fast. Thankfully, the birthday package I recently received is full of nothing but food, so that should last me a while!

We are coming up toward the end of the raining season. There have been more and more gorgeous days. Today was one of them, and all day I thought about going into down and mingle with my people. Finally, around dinner time, I went into town to make the round of hellos, and I think tomorrow I am going to bring my GRE book to the bar and sit with my bar lady. That should be an experience!

It's bizarre to think I only have about 9 months left in Cameroon. I am going to miss this life. Yesterday, the power was out all day, so I spent a better part of my evening reading back issues of The Economist by the candlelight. Sometimes, I actually rather enjoy when the power is out and all my electronics are dead. It forces me to really embrace solitude. Being alone takes on an entirely different meaning here. And it's not always bad. I am alone and mostly content. I don't feel the need to fill preconceived social expectation. Friday night is just another night; I don't feel like a loser spending it alone at home, because I have no other choice. Being free from those kind of social obligations can be quite nice.

Life isn't always easy here. Sometimes I just really wish I have running water and indoor plumbing. Other times I wish I can just call up a friend and meet up for an hour over coffee. I've managed to create friendships and swiftly learning to let them go as people move onto their next adventures while I remain here in Cameroon. These aren't easy things to deal with, but on the other hand, I've had some of the happiest moments of my life here. The rolling heels of West Cameroon; the adorable kids who fetch water; the way I say "bonjour" to at least 20 different people on my way into town; the list goes on. And this list makes those very lonely nights very worthwhile.

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