Well, that interval certainly proved longer than I intended…..
When I last wrote in June, we were so excited to be taking our farewell journey with our friends, camping together throughout as much of Namibia as we could show them in two weeks.
By the time we saw them off for their return flight home, we had five days to get all our goods packed, surrender our trusty car to the new owner, give away what we couldn’t take back with us, and get our little apartment in good shape to give back to Poly — all concrete tasks; all easily handled.
The camping trip with Bruce and Peg provided lots of ‘that’s the last time we’ll see that’ moments, but at the time, we were so excited to show them everything we could, the little twinges of sadness that bubbled up got shoved aside to be dealt with later. It wasn’t until we actually started to pack up our six(!) suitcases
that we realized what profound sadness there was going to be in leaving. We had come to love Namibia and our life in beautiful Windhoek,
but most especially, the amazing friends we had made and the irreplaceable experiences we had during our year. Turns out, coping with non-concrete emotions of sadness and loss—not so easily handled.
The day before we left was my birthday. The teachers at the preschool asked that I visit one last time to say good-bye (again!) and celebrate my birthday. The kids and teachers presented me with beautiful gifts crafted from shared memories of my extraordinary year spent with them.
They sang all the songs they knew, some of them mastered just for this occasion. There were dances, recitations, hugs, laughter, and tears all around.
Hard as it was, I finally had to hang up my Teacher Lynn moniker and leave the school for the very last time.
Here is what my walk to my car was like.
It broke my heart.
Our farewell dinner with friends was emotionally just as difficult. Even though we laughed a lot, ate and drank heartily, were saluted with an original limerick written just for us by the poet laureate of the group,
and gifted with such thoughtful mementos of our year together, leaving our friends behind was like a little death.
We've been back for six months now. It has taken these past six months to start to put it all into perspective, to try to figure out how to be home when a large part of us still feels like we left home behind in Namibia.
A woman I met a few days before we left Windhoek told me, “You have been changed by being here. Africa’s in your blood now…..you’ll come back”.
I hope she’s right.
P.S. There are more adventures to chronicle. I intend to do just that. Check back in a couple of weeks if you like.