Just Pretend

8 Feb

Most of my life, I get through hard changes by pretending or imagining things. As you may have guessed, this is Maggie writing this post– not my stoic, rational, and dependable husband. Anywho. So I pretend a lot. Yes. When I was in India, I would stare out of the window in Physics class daydreaming about Princess Sheherezad and her 1001 tales or making up my own story about the cat peeing on the garbage pile in the alley and Prabitha Ma’am would yell at me. “Maaaaaaaargaret??” she’d demand shrilly, snapping me out of my stupor. And just like that, I was back in the real world.

Well, suffice it to say, I am pretending a lot so far here in Rwanda. It’s survival mode, baby. And yes, it is only six days into our stay here. Come off it. As an accomplished anthropologist, I am more aware of cultural differences now which induces the onset of culture shock much sooner than usual. Or at least that is what I’m telling myself. So I am pretending we are on safari or an ornithological excursion where we learn what wagtails and golden-throated, small-winged warblers are to chalk up one more on my board for exotic bird bingo. I pretend we have chocolate brown skin like Betty or Gerald, our new friends, when everyone stares at us when we walk up the hill to work in order to convince myself they’re staring just because we’re young, attractive, and in love– not because we are a couple of muzungus huffing and puffing our red-faced way up the hill they walk every morning to and from work. I pretend I am the kindest of Grantham ladies from Downton Abbey when the staff of the Seeds of Peace Guest Center bring us every meal (including tea! HA! We’re so cultured.) and generally wait on us hand and foot; I can’t speak their language so I just say “morakoze,” thank you, and smile and giggle a lot. As long as they keep laughing at or with us, we’re good.

Tonight, we had no power and so ate our beans, rice, potatoes for Justin, bananas for me, and cow soup by the light of a silver lantern that looked like something a Victorian coal-miner might use. The manager of Seeds of Peace, Alfred, gave it to us the day we moved to our current room. “Chinese!” he said proudly, gesturing to the LED lantern powered by merely a battery pack at the bottom and shook his head in disbelief. I nodded my head understandingly, agreeing that Oriental wonders would never cease.

Walking back to the room, I dreaded the possibility of lacking running water as well as electricity. But as we hopped down the steep staircase towards the lakeside, I heard my mother’s voice in my head.

“Just pretend it’s camping,” she said chirpily.

I was surprised her voice said this particular thing about having no running water or electricity because my mother has been known to say much more descriptive things about such a situation. But I was happy to hear her pretend voice and it was good to be reminded to keep my chin up. Arriving back to the room, we found out we indeed had no water. Luckily I had saved some this morning, although I really was excited about a running shower instead of a bucket bath. To console ourselves, we called our mamas. It was good to hear their real voices and there is nothing like a mom to remind you that you are loved, that your phone calls are relished, and that you make someone proud (despite having had a meltdown the day before about a bed the size of a twin and a mosquito net touching your face for hours and your big hunk-of-a-man husband touching you with his 2384654835 degree body all night). Mid-Google call, the electricity came on.

Slowly by slowly, all shall be well. We got a new bed. I feel highly accomplished every time I take a bucket bath. We sweat just a wee bit less walking up the 1 KM hill the second time today.

There’s no pretending about that.

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6 Responses to “Just Pretend”

  1. Jordan Ellis February 8, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

    you are adorable. I miss you already.

  2. feed me, feed the world February 8, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    So good to hear you guys are doing well! We’ve been praying for you. All shall be well, sweet Maggs, even if all shall be difficult. May the peace of the Lord surround you guys, and may you feel His spirit within you as you work to build His Kingdom!

  3. Elizabeth February 8, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    Maggie you are as beautiful and sonorous as your words. I love you so much&the way you tell stories always brings a smile to my face. Good luck lady, you are an inspiration to me always.Hope this experience rocks your world. I miss you. ❤

  4. Susan Taylor February 8, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your story, Maggie. Love and thoughts from the Taylors.

  5. Raven Tommey February 9, 2012 at 12:58 am #

    You are the bomb. I love you and miss you. It’s great to hear your voice through your words! I’m jealous of the adventure you guys are on. Can’t wait to see you when you return. Keep up the blog…I want to know what’s going on as often as possible! Love. Love. Love!!!!!

  6. Jenevieve February 9, 2012 at 1:00 am #

    Maggie, I’m glad I came across your blog! It’s neat to hear you all are in Africa, and I’m looking forward to reading future posts. Keep your chin up, and I’ll remember you in my prayers.

    P.S. Remember when we used to play various make-believe games with my sister? I’m glad to see you are still pretending sometimes. I do too 😉

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