September 12, 2014 at 3:05pm
With the one year anniversary of Westgate coming up, I’ve been reflecting a lot on grief and our rights to do so. I often hear people dismiss their grief by saying something like, “Well, I didn’t know that person as well, so I don’t feel like I have the right to be this upset.”
I’ve struggled with this even on a very personal level. When my former roommate Ruhila was killed in Westgate, I thought a lot about how what I was feeling couldn’t compare to her family. I thought about how it had been two years since we’d lived together, and that maybe I didn’t deserve to grieve publicly.
"Grief is not a sign of weakness nor lack of faith, it is the price of love."
I want to own my grief and lay it bare. I’ve always felt guilty writing about it too publicly, as though it would be seen as self-indulgent and self-absorbed. But grief is a part of love and loss and remembrance, and to deny ourselves that is one of the saddest things a person can do to herself.
After a difficult morning, I found myself scribbling this on a subway:
The things I remember most vividly about Ruhila have nothing to do with her “celebrity” status in Nairobi. Instead, they’re pajama-filled, because for all her high energy she just loved to lie in bed and watch reality TV at home. They consist of late night conversations in the hallway of the home we shared, where we would cross paths and talk about old loves or gossip about boys. They include the 2011 Eid party she took me to, watching Bollywood movies and gushing over how hot Hrithik Roshan is, and me showing her how to navigate the matatu system to get to town (much to her awe and my amusement).
People enter your life, sometimes for all too brief periods of time. Roo traveled through NYC about two months before she passed away, and that was the last time we exchanged messages. I think constantly about the people I’ve taken for granted, and for the life I assume I’ll get to live. There’s only ever an illusion of certainty, and not much more.
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
September 1, 2014 at 2:27pm
You don’t fall in love like you fall in a hole. You fall like falling through space. It’s like you jump off your own private planet to visit someone else’s planet. And when you get there it all looks different: the flowers, the animals, the colours people wear. It is a big surprise falling in love because you thought you had everything just right on your own planet, and that was true, in a way, but then somebody signalled to you across space and the only way you could visit was to take a giant jump. Away you go, falling into someone else’s orbit and after a while you might decide to pull your two planets together and call it home. And you can bring your dog. Or your cat. Your goldfish, hamster, collection of stones, all your odd socks. (The ones you lost, including the holes, are on the new planet you found.)
And you can bring your friends to visit. And read your favourite stories to each other. And the falling was really the big jump that you had to make to be with someone you don’t want to be without. That’s it.
PS You have to be brave.
Uruguay 1 - Italy 0
Suarez gets his third bite of his career and Godin heads in the only goal as Uruguay advances to the next round ahead of the Italians. Uruguay will face the winner of Group C.
Why does anyone still allow Suarez to play???!
Germany 2 - Ghana 2
Klose scores his record-tying 15th career World Cup goal as the Germans come back to tie Ghana.
Serious World Cup fever. What an amazing game today!
Brazil 0 - Mexico 0
Who would have thought this game would end up scoreless? Ochoa had a big hand in keeping in that way.
This is amazing. Paint recaps of the World Cup games.
Fieldwork Under Fire
"It is when we try to give empirical content to violence as an issue of human existence that we notice the limitations of a too-restricted preoccupation with death, suffering, power, force, and the infliction of pain and constraint. Most of the time, people are attending to the routine tasks of their lives, to eating, dressing, bathing, working, and conversing. Conceiving of violence as a dimension of living rather than as a domain of death obliges researchers to study violence within the immediacy of its manifestation. War, rebellion, resistance, rape, torture, and defiance, as well as peace, victory, humor, boredom, and ingenuity, will have to be understood together through their expression in the everyday if we are to take the issue of the human construction of existence in earnest. A too-narrow conceptualization of violence prevents us from realizing that what is at stake is not simply destruction but also reconstruction, not just death but also survival.”
A few days ago I saw my former boss from Iowa City for the first time since October.
The last time we saw each other, we were both terribly depressed. We wandered from place to place in Chelsea on a cold rainy day, attempted some self-therapy by drinking chamomile tea, and spoke of broken hearts and alienation.
In truth, I don’t remember much from that time except for extreme sadness and companionable understanding.
We’re both happier now than we were when we last saw each other, and it shows in different ways. I’ve gained back the weight I lost during three sorrowful months in 2013. Her energy is lighter and her eyes more radiant.
While we sat and drank, we laughed over the bittersweet memory of our misery. With some relief that, for the most part, that’s all it is now- a memory. She looked at me and said, “I just remember being so miserable. But I also remember you reaching out to me, and feeling like you could understand what it was like.”
Gavin de Becker writes in The Gift of Fear, “Few of us predict that unexpected, undesired events will lead to great things, but very often we’d be more accurate if we did.”
Connection comes at such unexpected times.
January 22, 2014 at 11:06pm
Unimaginable things happened the year I was 24. I’ve written about it and will probably continue to do so from time to time.
- It was such a year of loss. I lost teachers, friends, roommates, and more.
- My heart broke. A lot. In several different ways. It’s been years since I’ve referred to myself as heartbroken.
- I left my established life in Nairobi and broke a contract with a job I loved because I felt like I didn’t know myself anymore.
- There was a lot of risk-taking. In relationships, in friendships, in entrepreneurial ventures. Some people stepped all over me, but others opened their arms to me and that made the vulnerability worth it.
- I stepped into solopreneurship- something I had never believed I would ever do.
- I learned more about myself than I ever expected. How I carry my experiences in Nairobi with me, issues I’ve pushed back for years. I learned not to apologize for what I want or for how I feel. I learned what it feels like to reach my limits and how to emerge bruised and battered, but intact.
Thanks for all the lessons, 24. Here’s to 25 being an even better year.
(Source: oe-uvre, via yogachick)