I know some people would be writing daily – hourly,
But I just can’t seem to manage it.
I write about feelings, but so much of what I’m experiencing right now is visual,
and maybe my feelings just haven’t caught up yet
or I don’t trust them, yet,
because, who am I to write about something like a township
or the African landscape
or Apartheid. . .
I’m the foreigner here.
It’s really a first.
A Diaspora Jew living in Israel isn’t considered a foreigner,
and a Canadian living in America is subjected to jokes
and insinuations that Canada isn’t reallyanother country,
and yet the same closeness, if you can call it that, means
that Canadians living in America are comfortable participating in American discourse.
We’re not visibly or audibly different (not dramatically anyway)
but here, I can’t hide it.
If I’m speaking, I am obviously other
(and sadly, most often identified as American).
And even if I am not speaking,
I’m white, so whether I got here last month or 100 years ago,
I’m stillnot of this place
My skin symbolizes a history I had absolutely nothing to do with
but somehow feel ashamed of
I want to write about these things in thoughtful ways,
in analytical ways,
but I feel so far from qualified.
I wouldn’t even know where to start
I want to write about the mountains
and about Monday’s road trip and the way the landscape
with every bend of the road
We flew up and over mountains somehow
and they were behind us before I could even take a good picture
and in minutes we could leave a lush green town and be in the middle of
as far as the eye could see
I want to write about the cold ocean
and the way it sounds
and the wind howling through -
rattling windows and shaking foundations
and the way people mention that there are months of this ahead
with a laugh
Or the way that everyone is so concerned about what street I live on
but no one seems worried if I have to drive at night
As if some statistics are meant to be taken more seriously than others
but not one can tell me quite which,
or maybe I’m just not asking the right questions
or in the right ways?
I want to write about the people
and the quirks
and how the simplest things seem incredibly strange
and how excited I was to see a potato bug
and a squirrel –
like friends I thought I’d never see again and yet here they are
and about my lemon tree
and about grey water
and about how exhausted I am at the end of each day.
And when I tried to figure out why,
I realized that I’m spending a tremendous amount of energy just
to understand what people are saying
I’ve never loved running into Americans as much as I do right now
simply because I can have a conversation with them and not be working overtime
to decode half of what they’re saying
And at the same time,
I love hearing my own inflections shift
to mirror those around me.
I love calling traffic lights “robots”
and stop signs “stop streets”
and tomaaahtos andbanaaahnahs and plaaaahnts.
I love the insanely polite children
and the way everybody smiles in the streets even though there are lots of things
they could be not-smiling about
I love how Table Mountain is reliably flat and solid and always there
I love how Lion’s Head looks down on the city like a protective guardian
and also seems to play games with me,
peeking at me through tall buildings as I attempt to drive smoothly down the highway
I love being here
I love having a job I love
I love having people I love to work with
I love feeling close to God here
and to history -
like Israel but even more ancient sometimes.
I love my house.
And I know this is me, writing about it,
pages and pages of this, now,
but it isn’t even close to representative
of what each day feels like as I’m moving through it
there are a million things I’m forgetting
or that I don’t know how to capture
There are smells I don’t know how to identify.
There is so much I don’t understand,
That will take years and years for me to understand.
There is so much. . .
I moved to Africa.
I did that,
And I don’t know what comes next
but I know I have to make the most of it
and make meaning of it
and figure out what to drink in
and what to filter out
Right now it’s all washing over me
and what sticks, sticks
and all the rest will have to wait
a poem for another day.