Thursday, June 3, 2010

FIN (for now)

I've got to wrap this up, but it's hard.  Hard because I haven't really "finished" with Dakar or Senegal or Africa, hard because I don't know how I can improve upon the blogged goodbyes that have come before me.  I'll quote one post and link to the other, because I think these two say it as well as I could ever hope to.

This is Mairéad O'Grady's final post, "You say goodbye, I say hello."  It makes for a beautiful bookend, especially knowing that she will be going back to Senegal shortly to stay with the Tourés--the extended Senegalese family that we share.

And this is the entirety of Ryan Brown's post, "Goodbye to All That":
to Dakar, to dust, to Wolof, to rice and fish, to sheep living (and dying) on my roof, to marriage proposals, to malaria medicine, to car rapides, to bargaining for cab rides, to my race affording me celebrity status, to fabrics covered in dollar signs or Obama faces or portraits of the baby jesus, to five times daily calls to prayer, to mountains of trash, to the Atlantic crashing up against the sides of the city, to babies named Mohammed, to perpetual summer, to fish dumplings, to men in T-shirts bearing english slogans they couldn’t read (“Michigan State University presents…The Vagina Monologues”), to speaking French every day, to pretending to understand French every day, to Allison and Shannon and Bobby, to Africa time, to holidays that depend on the moon, to all of that and to a thousand others rattling through my head just beyond reach. Goodbye.
As for my own "goodbye"?  I don't feel quite so poetic.  I feel very vulnerable writing about it, even thinking about it.  I've never been that good at keeping in touch.  I worry about the potential permanence of my leaving, about what we call "life courses."  What if I don't ever make it back, like Mame Diarra (Mairéad's Senegalese name), to see the Tourés again?

Professor Sène and Papa at l'école Fanaicha

I am somewhat comforted when Ousmane assures me that I cannot forget "mon deuxième pays," my second country, and of course, I can never forget my second family, my Senegalese family.  Papa Touré saw to that--before I left, he gave me a letter addressed to my parents that I would have to read for them (it was in French).  The letter was both generous and somewhat formal in tone; he wrote that I would have to return with my husband and child(ren) to see them again, because I had been "incontestably" adopted, and that they would keep me in their prayers, hoping that le Bon Dieu would grant me success in my future career.  This final sentiment dovetails with the wonders and worries of my senior year: what will my future career be?

I guess that means that there is no way for me to give a fitting conclusion.  Life doesn't offer itself to us in chapters.  And blogs, I've realized, don't resume themselves like books.

So I move forward, from Danville to Dakar and back again, to New York, to New Haven, and then to where?  To what?