Oct 31, 2015

On Being Alone. And House Tour.

It's a conversation that has happened multiple times in the short time I've lived in Rwanda. Always going a little something like this...

Random Human: "Are you married?" 
Me: "No." 
Random Human: "Oh, I'm sorry." 
Me: "I'm not sorry." 
Random Human: "You have someone to take care of you?" 
Me: "I live with my cat." *pulls out phone to show pictures of cat*
Random Human: "You are......alone?!?!?!" *cue shock*

The truth is, I don't really think of myself as alone. Sure, I get lonely. That's different. Everyone gets lonely, whether you live in a random town in Rwanda or a huge city in America. It's life. Sometimes we are lonely and sometimes we are not. I don't need anyone to "take care of me." I am perfectly functional on my own. 

But being alone. That is something I keep contemplating thanks to the daily reminders from Rwandans that I am in fact...a single woman living in a house alone with her cat in the heart of Africa. 

Truth is, I've lived "alone" for 8 years. But it hasn't felt like it. In China I was either in a dorm or in a relationship or had such a tight knit community that I never felt "alone." I had my space, but I was not an island trying to make my way through life. 

Here in Rwanda, I did not come alone either. There are 3 fellows in Rwanda, the most of any African country who hosts fellows. The other two are 2.5 hours away in the capitol, and I am here in the boonies. They are never more than a whats app message away and I see them all the time. I talk to my family every day and keep up with friends in China via We Chat. I really don't feel alone at all. I woke up this morning lonely as hell, but then some kids came to my window and hollered at Mushu and it made me laugh and I was reminded I am part of a community. However challenging that community is. I get to be the white lady with a white cat who is entertaining to children. That's cool. 

The not being married bit is a little harder to swallow and incredibly irritating. Unlike many single women my age who make the life choices I have to live abroad and become invested in foreign communities for various reasons - I have dreams of a family. Before leaving China, I was in a relationship that was quickly heading towards marriage. He is an incredible man who loved me dearly and I wish the best for him. But, I left him for many reasons, one of which was to come to Rwanda. I want to tell these Rwandans who inquire about my marital status, "I could be married if I wanted to be, but I chose to come here to you instead, so be kind and stop judging." The truth is, I want the best for myself (and all the women in my life). And right now the best for myself is living in Rwanda, overcoming new challenges, observing a new continent/country/culture/way of life, being the best teacher I can be, and...living alone while doing it. I can do this alone. Because I'm really not alone at all. 

The idea of "being alone" is something I have been contemplating. It's fascinating to have a whole culture describe me as something I don't describe myself as. 

In the same vein, here are some photos of my newly improved house. I feel much better, though not great, about the situation. It is hard not to compare to fellows who have much nicer accommodation than I do. I'd do almost anything for a hot water heater, some cabinets, no rats, clean walls and some privacy. But - I've gotta let some things go about what I think I deserve and be thankful for my cute (and free) house. 

new fence to keep all the friends back a few feet

Bao Bei likes his home

Front room, table for cooking/laundry/everything

art bought at Inema Studio in Kigali, done by street children

guest bedroom with a giant Florida on the wall

my bedroom (cat included) 

my favorite part of the house - my "vanity" area with woven basket and necklaces from Rwanda

other side of my bedroom - laundry hamper and books on the floor, red pattern on the wall from China 

my bathroom - buckets of water and a bucket for my showers (I boil water and pour into the bucket then pour on my head)

new Africa panel

more street kid art 

lots of friends visiting Mushu 

gas stove, spices from america on the window ledge

"kitchen" area, more water buckets on the ground for washing dishes (no sink)

And that, my friends, is how the lucky single ladies (ok, just me) live in Eastern Province, Rwanda. 

walk slow. xoxo.

No comments: