Saturday, April 26, 2008

Feeling like I finally fit...

Last Saturday was one of those days that’s just made up of a whole bunch of random events, that makes you shake your head and laugh. But at the same time there were some very small moments that just made my heart happy so I thought you’d get a kick out of it…


I was at an EWB conference for most of the day but eager to get home because Enellece’s was coming to town to work on wedding planning. I was really looking forward to it because I haven’t seen her for many months. I arrive home around 6 and before I get my second foot through the door she’s yelling my name and comes tearing around the corner arms out ready to throw around me in a big hug. Never underestimate the joy of a big hug! They are just on their way to the tailor as she has bought some material and wants to get a skirt and blouse and a matching shirt made for Frank for their upcoming engagement party. It’s dark so safety in numbers, Frank, Enellece, Grace and I head out to walk over to the tailor’s. After perusing some bridal magazines and getting an idea of styles for the wedding, the woman (who I assume to be the tailor) piles us all into her van and I think she’s going to drive us home. But we take the first turn in the wrong direction and then the second, so I whisper to Grace beside me “Where are we going?”. I’m pretty accustomed to not knowing what’s going on around me and just going with the flow. People are often talking and things are often happening around me and I have no idea what’s going on but don’t seem to question much anymore. Everything seems to work itself out even if I don’t have any idea what’s going on or why. Anyways, so Grace says, we’re going to get the tailor. In my mind, I’m asking so… where were we before? but instead, nod knowingly and look out the window. We are driving into a very low income area of town. There are small decrepit grocery stalls lit by low-burning candles, fires are burning with the makings of the evening meal, children run through the headlight beams, and eerie figures seem to lurk in the shadows, chatting at the corner of run down structures, or peering out from dimly lit doorways. We stop and the woman’s houseboy, who has come along for the ride, jumps out to go and get the tailor. We wait in the van for a little while and then all decide to file out onto the road. This area is clearly not accustomed to a lot of evening traffic and we’re already gathering a bit of an audience just by being stopped on the side of the road in a pretty nice looking vehicle, so imagine the surprise of the neighbourhood as one by one we start filing out of this van and the last, out pops this random white girl! Not something that happens everyday. Needless to say, I cause quite the ruckus! Kids are running around, laughing and giddy, the brave ones darting in to touch my leg and then run away. Adults are coming to gather round and see what all the noise is about. Frank then starts a bit of a math competition to pass the time and diffuse some attention. He’s calling out addition problems and children are yelling out answers to whoops of applause. We quite happily pass the time on arithmetic quizzes until the tailor arrives and then starts to take Frank and Enellece’s measurements in the light from the headlights and is leaning on the hood of the van to write them down on a little scrap of paper. Once the measurements are taken and a few more math problems are successfully solved, we all pile back into the van, and slowly bump our way back over the potholes to the main road, followed by a mass of waving children.


We arrive home and have some dinner and then Enellece asks Grace to try on a sample dress that she has chosen for the women in the wedding party. Not wanting to miss out on the fun, I get dressed up in my national wear that I had made. Essentially a skirt and top made of the same material that is often worn here on special occasions. So we are all parading around the house dolled up in our fancy wear, snapping photos, twirling around and feeling quite girly. Frank, meanwhile is lying on the couch reading the newspaper, only glancing up once in a while to smile and roll his eyes! Enellece has also brought a sample dress for Florence, our 8 year old neighbour who will be one of the flower girls in the wedding. Grace takes her into our room and starts getting her into the dress so she can come out and enjoy the fun. But our expectations are somewhat jarred when we hear screaming from the bedroom. Grace has managed to get the dress over Florence’s head and under her arms but can’t pull it down, or get it back off. Florence is essentially stuck in the dress and is screaming that by yanking it up or down we are hurting her. So all the adults now are standing around her and trying to figure out our next plan of action, kind of stifling laughter in the process because we can’t believe we got this kid stuck in a dress! The laughter though is only making things worse for poor Florence! Cream! That’ll do it… we’ll lube her up and slip the dress over her head! So we gather various creams in the house and are trying to shove hands up underneath the dress and down from the top but the dress is pulled so tightly that it’s digging into her skin. Needless to say it was too tight to get a hand in there as well so that plan was aborted. After a bit more yanking in various directions and her screaming, we decide to get a razor blade and cut her out of the dress. But again the seams are pulled so tight that we’re afraid to cut her skin. So after two failed problem solving attempts, we go back to the tried and true… just yank the thing. Sure enough with 3 grown women working at it and her yelling (we had to bring her outside because she was so loud it was echoing off the walls and we couldn’t think), we finally manage to finagle her out of it. Florence goes to bed exhausted and angry at all of us, and we all giggle and start looking around for a needle to repair the tears in the dress.

Strutting the catwalk (or hallway) in our fancy clothes

Florence also posing for the camera, before the fiasco...

The next morning, Enellece is headed back to Machinga so we all accompany her to the bus depot around 6am, still rubbing the sleep from our eyes. The bus depot is a bustling place pretty much at any time of the day or night. We get out of the car and immediately people are approaching me asking where I’m headed. I point at Enellece, “she’s the one, not me”. People are surprised that she has such an entourage to see her off. I maybe cannot explain this very well but for the first time in a long time, based on the events of the last 24 hours, on the sleepy morning fog, on the reactions of the people in the depot, everything just came together. I felt like a real true friend, not anyone different, not anyone who should stand out, just one of the group come to see off a good friend. We managed to pick an almost full bus and get Enellece safely packed in. We turn to walk away, Grace pokes me in the stomach and smiles. I throw my arm around her and we walk back to the car on our way home. Something inside me is content and happy. I finally feel I “fit”, I belong, I’m happy…

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What a great story! I am so glad to hear that you are having some good times. Your friends and experiences sound so nice and fun. I'm happy for you.

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