I’ve been crabby all day today. I threw the cat out of my house multiple times, made an obvious large sigh when the principal asked me to invigilate an extra day and scoffed at a friend’s plan to visit. With the exception of the cat, none of those things really upset me but my emotions were high so I redirected my anxiety onto petty situations, as I typically do when I can process what is really tugging at me.
My now white walls are really what are bothering me.
Today I took down all of my photos, signs and postcards. I disassembled the photo collage I created from magazine cutouts and the picture mobile comprised of snapshots from home. I peeled sticky tack off the wall and organized the pieces into two piles: to send home, to burn. Now my walls are bare, with the exception of a few calendars that I plan to keep up until the day I move out, as if no one lived here. These walls, white as they are now, don’t show resemblance of a home. They don’t indicate that this was someone’s refuge, the place she could be herself in a life that was miles away from the comfort zone.
This round hut, made of bricks and thatch, is the longest place I’ve lived since moving out of my parents’ house when I graduated high school. As far as rondavals go, mine was perfect. It was roomy with a large bed, three tables, an oversized chair, a love seat and enough space for yoga. The roof didn’t leak nor did it inhabit mice. It was cool in the summer and tolerable in the winter. The first night I slept here, more than two years ago, was unnerving and scary. At the time, I couldn’t imagine that this place would ever feel like home and one day, suddenly and without fanfare, it did.
This house was my escape. I watched movies and ate popcorn to feel normal and forget about the problems I couldn’t solve. I cuddled up with blankets and listened to the rain outside, feeling reassured about my presence in Lesotho. I made American dinner for other volunteers and invited little village girls in to color and paint their nails. My favorite moments in the house were at night. Although I do have a light bulb in my house, I rarely used it and preferred candlelight. With a book, a cup of tea and small flickers of light, the one-room felt as comfy as any home with electricity and running water. Sometimes, I had to remind myself that I actually do live here and it’s not some vision of a cabin in the woods. This is my home.
But now, without the wall dressings, the transformation is coming undone. Like me, the rondaval is at the awkward in-between stage of moving. I still have six sleeps left under this roof but, as I slowly prepare to leave, it no longer feels like home. That magic is gone.
It’s a physical implication that the end is near, and that makes me sad. I’ll have other roofs and places to call home, but none of them will ever be like my little rondaval in rural Africa.