It’s been eight years – some of them verrrrrry long – since I moved to Ethiopia. I need to do a little truth telling about me and this place I don’t call ‘home’.
- I have yet to decide in my head and in my heart that I do, in fact, live in Ethiopia. I’m obviously conscious I am here but, even after eight years, this place feels like an ill-timed layover.
- I have shopping dreams. They are dreams where I’m wandering through a (western) mall and finding everything I want/need. Sadly, these are the happiest dreams.
- One of the few reasons I do like living here is because I get skinny-ish. I am aware of how vapid it sounds and you could be thinking, “well, of course it’s possible to get skinny…it’s famine central after all.” There is an abundance of food actually but the difference is that it’s real food. There is no Cool Whip. And unfortunately there is no Dorito snack mix – you know the one with cheezies, pretzels, nacho chips, etc.?
- It doesn’t feel like my home but it is my husband’s home. It sets up a strange dynamic where I feel very much like an outsider and he is able to be himself. Do you know that song “This land is my land, this land is your land”? Ya, that doesn’t apply here.
- Some of my behaviour is dictated by my being overly conscious of that label ‘outsider’ and (let’s face it) by being white in Africa. For example, I was in a coffee shop and there were rooms and rooms of wonderful paintings. But I refused to ask the price for any of them because I didn’t want to be perceived as a culture vulture. I would have happily paid for one painting that showed Addis in the rain in the early evening.
What I know is that Ethiopia is Ethiopia, Addis is Addis and it will continue to be regardless of whether I live here nor not. The “truths” I have are projections and stories I tell myself. The difficulty is overcoming (what feels like) one final hurdle before I can call this place home. Eight more years can’t pass by before that happens. Can it?