Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Whose Woods These Are

It's strange how it sneaks up on you: feelings, emotions, bubble up to the surface. Obviously they were right there, hiding, waiting for provocation, but you had no idea. And while it's somewhat cathartic, releasing them, you're unsure of what to do with them now. Put them on a shelf? Tuck them away somewhere?  Find someone to talk to? Or should you do what I do, and write about them?

My dad is getting ready to come home. As he ties up loose ends in Kenya, he reflects on what he's learned these past three years that he's been living in both places:
One thing I learned is that there are degrees of poverty. When you feel you’ve met some truly poor people, there are those who are poorer. I thought initially that the children with AIDS in the Children’s Home in Karen were the poorest of the poor, Then I went to the Village in Kitui and thought these children who were brought from nothing were worse off. I spent time in Kibera and saw the mud and muck and wondered how people could live like this. Then I met the Masai in Athi, with their houses made of cow dung, their hygiene deplorable and water undrinkable, Then I traveled to the north – to Turkana, where people are naked and starving silently and no one knows or seems to care. There are places I have never seen in Kenya, places in other countries like Sudan and Somalia where there is no doubt more sickness, and more violence and paralyzing fear.

This idea is almost too big: that even when searching for the poorest of the poor, you'll always find someone poorer; that whatever your problems, there's always going to be someone with bigger ones.  He concludes by saying that "even in these places of pain and fear, there is somehow life and there is love.... [L]ife is about the relationships."

Today has been altogether surreal.  The California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, and I feel like we're on the wrong side of history with this decision. For so many of us, the idea that a marriage between two men or two women would be treated any differently than a marriage between a man and a woman seems absurd: It makes no sense, and it's as backward as segregation and bans on interracial marriage.

So these bubbling emotions: they come from recognizing myself in my father; they come from acknowledging my own pettiness and selfishness; they come from admitting all the choices available to me and the choices not pursued; and they come from my grandma, able to see through me for who I am and who I am not.

Anyway, so this is me, trying to put names and reasons to my sudden crying fit. It's passed now, and I'm ready to move on to whatever's next. And tonight, that would be sleep.

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