The African Sun
It's as if time stood still. Nothing has changed, save for the specials on restaurant menus, the size of cell phones, and the vitality of my thirteen-year old dog. Over the past year and a half, I have overcome more obstacles and met the greatest challenges I will ever face the rest of my entire life, yet when I go about daily life in the States now, it's as if it was all a dream.
Most friends have the same jobs, the same buildings are still standing, the same photos sit on the mantle, I'm convinced that even the same leaves pave the trail on my running route. Hopping over rocks and fallen trees, I remembered every footing and obstacle along the way as if it was frozen until my return. Or maybe I was just asleep for a day and it hasn't had time to change?
A stop at the bookstore was a double whammy - for and against my intuition. The calendars for sale on the shelves revealed the fact that it definitely was a new year, but the same books remained on the bestsellers'lists.
A street downtown was renamed after the former President of the United States, but the same shops open their doors onto it.
The only evidence of my time in Africa are the tan lines on my legs from the relentless African sun and the friendship bead bracelets my neighbor's girls gave me.
I return to the cusp of fall and winter in Arkansas, just in time to bear witness to the brilliant change in colors on the trees. The sun has buried itself behind gray skies, and its warmth in hibernation for the winter. It's as if I know the secret - the secret of the sun - its powers and beauty. I know why people travel from opposite ends of the earth to behold the spectacle that is the setting of the African sun. It bestows an amazing show that illustrates life in Africa in less than ten minutes. It's as if God granted Africans the beauty of the sun and deprived them of every other basic need, but sometimes you believe the sun is magnificent enough to compensate.
"Trips don't end when we return home - in a sense it's when they usually begin." - Agnes E. Benedict