Thursday, July 21, 2011

Left Behind

I have a theory that goes like this: it is easier to leave than to be left behind.

11 months ago when I left my friends and family in the USA, I was leaving for an exciting and unknown adventure. I didn’t know what was to come, but the unexpected was alluring, and even though I was anxious and a little frightened at times, I was overwhelmingly excited. However, as I flew across the world to be greeted a different people and culture; I left my friends and family back at home. They remained behind, usually leading the same routine lives as they had been when I was present, but the only difference was I had created a void, an absence, in their lives.

Now it has come time for me to return to the USA, and refill that void which I left. However, throughout this year Masealama has become home to me, and the people surrounding me have become family. So when I leave, I am leaving for another adventure, to return home and then attend grad school, but my friends and family here in Masealama will be left behind. Although they did not know me a year ago, when I arrived they opened up their hearts and homes to let me inside, and when I leave I am going to be leaving the same void which I left when I came to South Africa in the first place.

When you have a visitor in your home, your house is suddenly enlivened- you eat special meals, you stay up late conversing, and you busy yourself to make sure everything is clean and orderly. As you watch them leave, they have a trip ahead of them of some sort- whether it is going home, going to the mall, or visiting other family, they have something on the horizon- a destination in view. However, you are left in the same house, only now you are left with a small void where that visitor was. You house is a little quieter, and you have to return to your normal day-to-day routine. It’s hard to be left behind.

When that visitor stays with you for over a year, their departure is even more of a struggle. Although it is EXTREMELY challenging for me to leave my friends and family here in Masealama, I know that when I return I will be reunited with the friends and family which I left behind. I will be leaving with another adventure ahead of me. But I think that it will be even more challenging for my friends and family here in Masealama. I want to be conscious of this fact, and leave with as much grace as possible, to attempt to ease the transition. I feel almost selfish, being the one who LEFT my family and friends in the USA, and now am LEAVING my friends and family in South Africa. I have the easier end of the deal, while I am busy LEAVING BEHIND the people that I love to continue on with my adventures.

Being left behind doesn’t mean that you do not have adventures on the horizon, but they are simply less tangible than those who are leaving. Although I will be leaving again, and will once again leave a void, I think it is better to have left South Africa than to never have come at all.

~Heather Anne Nelson

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