Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Being Here, Being There

I read an article about the Arctic explorer Pen Hadow. He goes on solo expeditions, stretching himself to the limit of what he - or anyone - can endure. Here's part of the interview:

A: Do you miss regular human contact?

PH: My wife and I have found over the years that regular phone calls don’t work for us. One bad conversation is enough to bring us down. It’s better if we keep to our own worlds until the job is done. I’m in such a different mindset, utterly absorbed in putting one foot in front of the other, that most basic desires melt away.

Maybe that's the best way to deal with the separation, just to allow both people to immerse themselves in their separate worlds. Maybe we both just need to be where we are and try to let that be enough.

I started volunteering in my friend's classroom; she teaches Kindergarten. I went through Confidentiality Training where I was told not to snoop on the teacher's desk. The first day one of the little girls yelled out, upon meeting me, "You're pretty!" (This is something my middle schoolers do not say to me.) When I went back for the second time a child rushed up to me and gave me a big hug, yelling, "You came back!"

Today I'm going to go shopping with my sisters-in-law for some spring clothes. When I first got here I never imagined staying until the weather turned warm. It's so silly to buy clothes when I have a closet full at home, but at least anything I buy for this time of year I can take home and wear there. (The same could not be said for the sweaters that people loaned and gave me when I first arrived.)

I'm trying to be here while I'm here. Did I mention it's not easy? (I think I might have.)

And being there? What's that like? I feel as though I have a very limited perspective on that. I scan the photos people post on Facebook and read everyone's blog. I read articles written by journalists who don't love Haiti the way I do, and I wonder about their interpretations. I ask my husband questions in our brief conversations, but then the internet connection in our house goes out or he has to talk to our son about a picture he drew. And it's always time to hang up, so much sooner than I'm ready to.

But I'm not there. I'm here. And here is where I have to be right now.

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