Well, Leg 1 of our travel to Dakar is complete. We flew from Atlanta to London, spent a lovely (ha ha) six hours at the airport, then flew in to Lyon yesterday evening. We’ve got a couple jam-packed days here before flying on to Dakar on Thursday. But I’ve made time to eat some French bread and Cheikh is catching up on soccer matches.
Quick recap here: We’re moving back to Senegal, where we lived for two years before moving to France for six years, then spending five months in the US. So I think it’s probably pretty normal that I spent most of my awake-time on the flight yesterday pondering the question ‘where is home for me?‘
Is it where they speak English, bag your groceries for you and have Cherry Dr Pepper? Or is it where they speak French, don’t make eye contact on the street and have the best bread in the world? Or maybe where they speak Wolof, welcome you like family and have attaya?
The truth is that I feel about 70% at home in each of these places. Each one has aspects that I love and… don’t. My family is in the US. My work is in France. My dreams are in Senegal.
On the flight yesterday I closed my eyes and tried to visualize ‘home’.
Let me interrupt for a second and tell you that when I asked Cheikh to do this and tell me what he saw, he responded with, “Not France.” I pushed for more and he said, “I guess I feel ‘homeless’ right now.”
For me, it was like looking through a Fisher Price View-Master, clicking through the images: our living room at the house we shared with my parents in Georgia, the view from our apartment in France, Penni’s kitchen in Iowa, the porch where we house-sat summers in France… and then one image came into focus and didn’t click away.
We were only there for ten days last February. It’s a guesthouse in Dakar. There’s a refrigerator with cold drinks for 300 cfa (about 50 cents) and a drink station with instant coffee, teas, powdered milk and sugar. The hum of a generator plays in the background behind the beat of the radio and cars honking in the street. It smells like soap and dust. The sun beaming in the kitchen widow reflects off the white tile floors and walls. And it feels like home in my heart – even though we were there for only a short time.
As excited as I am to start life in a new place that will become our home, I can’t help but think that with all these options bouncing around in my head and heart, we’re a lot more ‘homefull’ than ‘homeless’.