Posted tagged ‘lonely’

Where thou art – that – is Home.

June 6, 2016

Yesterday I chose to do little. I took a shower for the sake of cleanliness, but that was it for constructive. Today I go back to the old list and change my bed and do laundry then I’ll need a new list. I’m not all that enthused about doing anything so the new list will be short. Outside might just be the only item. I have chairs to clean and lights to fix, and being outside might make doing work a bit easier.

It’s noisy right now. I hear hammering and wood being piled. I suppose in the scheme of things they aren’t very loud, but this is generally a quiet place. Dogs do bark and kids do yell but that’s it. The bird songs tend to be the loudest.

Usually all three animals are here with me when taking their morning naps. The only one here now is Maddie and she is roaming. Fern is in the living room and Gracie is in her crate. I can hear her snoring. If I move around, Gracie sticks her head out to see where I’m going. She’ll follow me if it looks interesting enough. Gracie is never far from where I am.

When I went to Ghana, it was the first time I ever lived alone. It took time to be comfortable living alone because I couldn’t just pick up the phone and chat or drop over to visit. Here I was trying to adjust to a new culture and a new country so being lonely and homesick at the same time felt crushing. I had to figure ways to deal with it. I wrote letters, some of which were never sent. They were filled with my feelings, my sense of failure and my wondering if Ghana was right for me. I ached for letters from home and ran to the staff room to check my box at least twice a day. I also concentrated on figuring out how to speak English so I could be understood by my students. I gave myself until Christmas. Come to find out, that was more than enough time. I adjusted to speaking English slowly with an emphasis on letters like t in better or letter. My students were catching on as well. The more they heard, the more they understood. I started going to the market and shopping for food. It connected me to the town and the people. They stopped seeing me as simply the white lady. Now I was madam, the teacher at the training college. I used Hausa, the language Peace Corps had taught me. The Ghanians were delighted.

I began to feel I was home, a different home but still home. I stopped running to check the mail. Sometimes I ever forgot for a day or two. I read in the evenings or wrote letters about my day to day life. Every one of those got sent. I loved being in Ghana.

“There are people who like to be alone without feeling lonely at all.”

July 11, 2014

The morning is a quiet one with only the songs of birds breaking the silence. I am part of the morning. A calmness seems to take over, a slowness with no need for haste. I stood outside leaning on the deck rail for a long time. I could smell the freshness of the morning air. I watched the birds at the feeders and the slow sway of the leaves from the slight breeze. It is a familiar feeling for me, the sense I am alone. I remember being in Maine on vacation, and it was pouring. I took my book and went to the car, got comfortable and read for hours. I loved the sound of the rain on the car roof, and I loved being alone. When I’d get home from school on a rainy day, I’d take off my wet clothes, put on cozy pajamas, get in bed and read. I snuggled in the warmth of the blankets and loved the quiet of my room. I used to be a night owl, and I was always the only one awake in my neighborhood. I remember being outside at one or two in the morning watching the meteor shower. I oohed and aahed as they lit up the sky. Every other house was dark, and I felt sorry for them. I wanted to run up and down the street waking my neighbors so they could share the glorious sight of all those meteors. I didn’t, which was probably the right choice.

The first time I ever lived alone was in Ghana. We were altogether for training so someone was always around who was sharing the same experiences I was. At the end of training, the transition to my post, Bolgatanga, way north and off the beaten path, was difficult, especially the first few months. I was terribly homesick and had no one to talk to about it. I was also having trouble teaching. The students didn’t understand my American accent, and at the end of the class they would tell me they heard nothing, a Ghanaian term for not understanding a word. I felt like a failure. Here I was lonely, miserable and a complete failure. I made plans to go home by Christmas if things didn’t change, but happily for me they did. I began to love being alone, to having all this time to myself. I would read for hours. My letters home were filled with everything I saw and did, and I took pleasure in the descriptions. I didn’t have to lie any more about everything being great because it actually was. I learned how to teach, how to enunciate. No more did students not hear me. Everything had fallen into place, and I couldn’t imagine leaving.

I bought my house when I was 29. I have lived alone the entire time. Sometimes I’d like some company, and I always miss my guests when they leave, but I am content living by myself.

“Christmas is the day that holds all time together.”

December 2, 2011

Last night my house was festive with all the lights lit, both back and front. The star on the fence is so bright you’d swear it swooped down from the sky just for the occasion. Late yesterday afternoon I went to Agway just for dog food and a red bow for the sled outside, but I should have known better. I ended up buying poinsettias, small ones for a cart in my dining room, a rosemary tree which fills the house with its fragrance, a small wreath for the gate, a larger wreath for the front door and a juniper swag for the mantle. The only thing left is the tree, but I say that with tongue in cheek.

It’s been a bit colder the last few days, in the mid to high 40’s, but it’s still not winter. Yesterday in one store I saw a woman wearing mittens, and I wondered if she was from a warm place.

People have started wishing each other a Merry Christmas. I’ve been hearing it in the stores when friends greet each other. I guess the season really is upon us. I opened day two of my advent calendar this morning, and it was a tree waiting to be decorated. I took my time placing the ornaments in exactly the right spots.

The only two times I was away at Christmas was when I was in the Peace Corps. I was 22, but I was still a kid at Christmas, and I was missing the snow, the lights and the tree and mostly I was missing my mother teasing me about my gifts, something she did all of her life. “Guess what I just bought you,” was what I’d hear this time of year. I’d pepper her with questions and get a hint which was really no hint at all. She sent me a box, air mail no less, just before my first Christmas away. It had a small artificial tree, some ornaments from our own tree, brick crepe paper to make a fireplace and a stocking. I decorated right away and felt a little less lonely.

A story I have told here before is one I’d like to tell again as that night still means so much to me. It was my first year in Bolgatanga. Christmas time in northern Ghana is the time of the harmattan. The days are hot, hot enough to melt a candle hot, but the nights are cold or at least cold in comparison. I kept my windows open so I could feel the cold, but I put a wool blanket on my bed to keep me warm. One night I was feeling sorry for myself missing Christmas and my family and was lying in bed trying to fall asleep when I heard someone singing We Three Kings. It was the only sound in the night, and it traveled through the clear air from one of the compounds near my house. I could tell it was a young boy. He sang each verse so clearly and so beautifully I was filled with all sorts of feelings especially joy at this gift he was giving me. Every year since then I have remembered that Christmas and that small boy and the most wonderous gift I was given.


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