“How do I make this my every day?” I wondered aloud while driving with my windows down, no make-up on, and reveling in the summer breeze. I just bought a pair of Teva’s and I’m convinced everyone thinks I’m nuts. I feel like I’m reclaiming years past by wearing them. The last time I owned a pari of Teva’s I was 19 and hiking Mt. Sinai in Egypt. It’s been 17 years since that sunrise hike, but I’ll never forget the feeling.
I lived by the contents of my giant backpack: a journal, a disc man, my film camera, a few wrap skirts, three solid colored t-shirts that covered half my arm, a bar of soy soap from The Body Shop that I used to bathe AND wash my clothes in the sink, and not much else. I think their was a Bible in there and I resented it because it was heavy and I never actually read it but it seemed like something a person should take on a mission trip to the middle east.
The 7 weeks I spent in Africa were exhausting in so many ways, but also exhilarating. I was drinking mango juice from corner stands, sailing on the Nile at sunset, and keeping my film in the fridge so it wouldn’t get ruined by the unbearable heat.
I was desperately home-sick but I grew to appreciate the feeling. The poet heart inside me finds a strange relaxation in sadness. It’s familiar and warm. It’s a quiet hum in my belly that reminds me I’m alive.
I would find my way to an internet café any chance I got and spend the money and the time creating lengthy emails to my family and my boyfriend. It felt like an achievement each time - so intentional was the whole process from start to finish… finding the place, walking to the place, waiting for the click and clatter of the dial-up to connect…. crafting messages that tried so valiantly to express every tie dye emotion I held inside and all the while not using forbidden words such as “god” or “mission” or “christian”. Those words had to be bleeped a bit - g*d.
I remember coming home from that trip and throwing away my Teva’s. They were beyond recognition. The soles so thin. The velcro barely sticky. The sand thoroughly corroding every color. It was hard to part with them though. They were a symbol for me of all the land I had walked, sweating and tired and lonely. The doubts, fears, and frustration I had overcome with each step I took. The wrestling with me weakness. The desire to complete the mission even as my family reminded me, “You can get on a plane and come home!”
Today when I strap on my Teva’s I’m getting ready for a different kind of adventure. I’m taking photos by the river’s edge. I’m meeting with a client and talking them through their money making plan. I’m walking with my son to the park or wrestling with my pit bull on the kitchen floor. There are no mountains nearby. The call to prayer cannot be heard through loud speakers in Shaker Heights. I am not drinking fresh mango juice at the corner café. I’m not snorkeling in the Red Sea or filtering my words through cyber space, but I am that same girl with a ceaseless need to grow and explore and walk the edge.
I am her and she is me.
We are each other.
And I will never leave her behind.