Pause my tales of Africa, and let me give you a glimpse of my real life right now.
I hadn't had a real horrible moment of transitioning back to the States.
Unless you count camping in a tie-dye T-shirt and refusing to move from under my shroud of blankets in the basement until my buddy invited me out of the house for a fun day in the sun. I had decided once I stepped off the plane in Salt Lake that I HATED the sun, and I never wanted to feel its heat for the rest of my life. But I also needed a good reason to shower, so okay.
My buddy came over with a box full of items to help comfort me back from my journeys. South Africa Rugby team T-shirts, a small plush giraffe, and a hippo stuffed animal. I carried the stuffed hippo with me for the rest of the day, leaving it in his truck when I had to step out in public. But after a day of hiking, suicidal bouldering, waterfalling, trail-running, eating, concerting, lemonade, bonfire, stargazing, and borrowing his phone so I could caption his Instagram photo and have a really punny conversation with myself on his account, I decided the Land of the Free is actually a really fine place to be. But I still hugged my hippo well into the night.
Then Sunday comes around. And all was fine and dandy, until Hippo couldn't come to church with me, which was certainly the cause of my internal descent.
Sacrament Meeting starts, and the first girl gets up to bear her testimony and randomally mentions a tribe from South Africa. OF ALL THE DAYS! I remember nothing else from the next seven speakers, because all I can see are endless red sand roads, zebras grazing in sunset horizons, my friends laughing with me in our house at Swasiland, and suddenly a cold river of tears pours from my eyeballs, all down my neck, and deep down into my shirt. That's how much water is flooding out of my face. Sobbing.
But because of some whole "public spectacle" concept that my parents tried to teach me once, I know I shouldn't allow wailing noises. So I just bite my lip real hard and let my body tremble in result. I pull out a notebook and write, hoping that relasing my nostalgia will return me to a state of ladylike decency.
As I purge my thoughts, I grant myself the freedom to remain in Swasiland for as long as I need, ultimately staying detached from real life. And also, I will continue to Vox Jo in London at 7 in the morning with long, drawn-out soliloquies about my life in Africa because she gets it from her time in Peru, and that helps.
Just as the closing song begins, I find four visiting teaching assignment slips for myself and my roommates that I meant to hang on the fridge before I left for Africa. I had written a note on each of them. Kersti: You are so PRETTY! Cici: You are so FUN! Julie: You are so KIND! Chantel: I. AM. A. ZOMBIE!! (from a 2 year old's answer to my question "what sound does a zombie make?") And then I keel over in laughter and pass them down the row, leaving everyone else in the same giggling state.
After the meeting, I decide whether or not to trail my snot all over the remainder of the building, pretty certain that said sobbing will continue for the next two hours. Nah. I better go home and put my body in a cocoon of everything fuzzy and comforting.
As I walk out, I pass a black man chatting on the phone. We wave at each other as if it ain't no thing, but when I'm halfway up the flight of stairs, I stop. He was BLACK! An AFRICAN!! So I turn to run back, while some voice of reason tries to tell me that he's probably an African-American, and never stepped foot in Africa in his life, so I am about to make a real horror of myself when I clobber him. But voices of reason can be so killjoy.
I approach him and say sweetly, "I have a question for you." He tells the person on the phone that he'll call them back in a moment. Then he stands up and immediately starts asking ME questions, as if an intrusive white girl in America is of any interest.
I immediately note his accent, quickly telling my voice of reason that it was WRONG, and then I blurt out- "WHERE ARE YOU FROM?" Yelling on accident. "I'm from Guana. So, West Africa." "NO WAY!!!!" voice of reason - stop yelling. "BECAUSE I JUST GOT BACK FROM SWASILAND TWO DAYS AGO!!"
He asks me more questions, and I hope I answered them without accidentally gleaking on his face. Then he says, "Well, how about I cook you up an African dinner sometime and you and some friends can come over." YES!!! LET'S BE FRIENDS FOREVER AND ALWAYS!!
And then I took my wet face on home. But with a grin.
Now I lay down to rest with my hippo. Because obviously I need more sleep.
Upward and onward,
Those are Mr. Hippo's feet. Just so nobody thinks Africa did some work on me. Other then my current state of mental insanity.