I am thankful for lost things
One of the best pre-Peace Corps pieces of advice I received came from a friend who has sort of a wandering heart, like myself. To summarize:
“Cherish the things you have with you because these things will be your home. But don’t hold on to too tightly. Things get stolen or broke. Be able to let go.”
I identified my new African persona with jewelry. Lots of bracelets, always earrings. Most of that came home with me and I used that jewelry to be the rope hanging on to my former life. If I wore big earrings and brightly colored bracelets, then everyone knew I had come from Africa and that it meant something to me.
Slowly I started to lose things. With more showers and clothing changes, I removed things more often and stuff got lost along the way. As I was losing earrings and bracelets, I was scared that I was loosing my African self.
Tonight I misplaced one of my favorite pair of earrings, bought in Madagascar. It fell off somewhere with bundling of coats and scarves. I was so upset for awhile – another token of my time in Africa gone – and then I realized that these material things do not define my experience, nor the person I became throughout those years. I can lose symbols, but I can’t lose that.