(circa the very beginning of November 2016
I was walking along our gravel path yesterday when something caught my eye.
My favorite flowers are blooming. These delicate, orchid-like blooms appear only once a year, gleaming from a hidden corner of our property like jewels under sand. They snake upwards from tendrils of green, buds silently bursting into ephemeral flowers that I have seen no where else. If you don’t look, you’ll never see them.
The loquats are coming of age, golden against the dark leaves of our tree and the sapphire blue of the sky. Days of sunlight crown the tree. The sky is usually a deep, rich blue, opening like a god’s eye after early morning mists.
I’m still in a stage of oscillation, waking into acceptance but dreaming strange and longing dreams. I rarely boil over into self-hatred, but when I do, it resides quickly like a fatigued storm on an empty beach. Empty.
I often brood over what comes after my internship with Woodland Star and Brackenhurst. The next part of my gap year will be spent as a volunteer at an orphanage in Gilgil, called “Restart Africa.” Many of the children there have been through traumatic life events, and the administration takes extra precautions in the selection of volunteers. I have to visit the Tigoni police station in order to get a background check certifying me as a responsible adult.
I walk with Mr. Bosco, the head of security at Brackenhurst, to the police station. For about eighteen years, I’ve driven past this garrison, always with a simmering curiosity about what is inside. As we glide up the road through the bare-boned dukas of Tigoni, I finally have the chance to find out.
There’s a courtyard, of sorts, on the other side of the dirty white-washed walls of the police station. Inside this courtyard is a ramble of ancient cars, unidentifiable machinery, and a few complacent looking goats tied to random objects. Mr. Bosco leads the way as we wind through the maze of rusty metal and the odd goat chewing a mouthful of grass.
As we get to a small, dark, and cramped room on the other side, the police chief loudly greets us from within. Once inside, we outline the type of document that we need, who I am, where I’m going, and a police man ever so delicately takes my fingerprints with a sticky black ink. Everyone inside the room, Mr. Bosco, the police chief, and the two other staff members, are quiet. After all ten of my fingers have been laboriously recorded, the room gives a collective sigh and we discuss preparations of the document. Apparently they will have to take it to Nyayo house, and will need my father’s passport. It will only take one day, they say. Little do I know that it will end up taking over two weeks, but at least I have finally gotten to see the mysterious interior of the station.
Mr. Bosco and I then make our way back to Brackenhurst. We take a shortcut through some tea, brilliant against the mahogany dirt. As we leap back onto the road near the dam, where women are hunched over washing clothes, I pinch myself mentally. Brackenhurst is home, but step just out of the gates and you realize that you’re still in Kenya. We climb up the sylvan road, trees forming a green arch above our heads, Colobus monkeys watching us from their leafy roosts.
I’ve been working long and hard on preparations for Woodland Star’s booth at Harvest Festival. After filming fragments of life at Woodland Star, I stitch together a documentary about the school. I push myself into the cycle of a consuming deadline, until it feels like Harvest Festival is the peak of a mountain, the door before the next path.
Harvest Festival comes; it’s a fun day. After the frantic panic of setting up the booth, I enjoy taking pictures, meeting prospective parents, and walking around the different vendors with my brother. The documentary seems successful enough, and I celebrate reaching this end target.
After several communications with the police and Restart, we decide that I will leave on Friday, November 11th. I count down the days, reaching out to friends who have returned to Kenya from their own adventures. I see Rosslyn perform Twelve Angry Men the day after Donald Trump wins the elections. Despite my bitter resentment at the world and America in particular, I manage to feel pride when watching the show.
Every week I lay in my acupuncturist’s room, needles imbedded in my body. Turquoise waves ripple across my vision as my energy circulates through cells like electricity. Afterwards, I drive home with Alfred, gazing as dukas and cement-block buildings turn into bioluminescent crops against red dirt and towering trees.
Though I have an abundance of activity, I feel like I’m going through the motions. In my mind’s eye, I’m still on that lonely and dark beach, trying to wait out the night. The winds howl overhead, calling to me in a language I can’t understand. Though I feel swallowed up by nothingness, my instincts detect something behind this blinding emptiness, something deeply good reaching out to me. I just can’t seem to touch it. I am a ghost, desperately prying over the past, looking for long-buried answers.
And through it all, my favorite flowers are still blooming.
It’s a few days before I’m about to leave, and one of my last quiet moments. I sit outside, with my broken mirror. The sky, overcast now for a time immemorable, finally begins to rumble. Then it cracks, and rain tumbles down. Tears of heaven.
Suddenly the sun decides to also appear, breathtaking through the rain. It lights up each drop like gold, and the unmistakable scent of earth rises, catalyzed by the bleeding sky. The purple shadow of the clouds and the radiance of the sun wash over me as I stand in the alchemy of it all, a single thread in a weaving universe.