"We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us." ~ Joseph Campbell (American Mythologist, Writer & Lecturer).
To be honest, I didn't have a planned life to get rid of, making the transition into a new life far easier. I don't plan ahead, I don't save for retirement. I rent an apartment because I refuse to purchase a house and I can't imagine living with another person or getting married. I am okay living with some financial debt, as I know it is my reality. When I die, I just want to keel over, untroubled by the events, accomplishments and misfortunes of my life. This is me. I have wasted so much time and there's no more time to waste. Wine should be drank. Music should be listened to loudly. Feet are for dancing. Lungs are for taking deep breaths. Lips are for kissing and smiling. Family is for loving and driving you crazy. I should go to Africa. To Limuru, Kenya. As soon as possible.
After dinner at my colleagues place, I let myself sit with the knowledge that a journey to Africa was actually possible. With my mind spinning with the information I had learned, I didn't feel scared about what emerged as my potential future. Ron's son had described the beautiful and "not-so-beautiful" aspects of life in Kenya, at least the parts of life he personally experienced. In his three months there, he got malaria and what's known as "jiggers" - a flea parasite that burrows into your feet, lays eggs, and eventually pops your toenails off (*shudder. He treated his jiggers before it became problematic). He had pictures of "bathrooms" (latrines) that would make most people resort to peeing in their pants....personally, I'd rather pee in street. And he had pictures of very poor, starving, HIV positive children. That was hard, but it was also reality. These images were mingled amongst beautiful photos of sunsets, jungles, locals, smiling children, and amazing adventures. I wanted to experience it all...not to sound too, you know, cliché.
I emailed Ron asking him to contact his connections in Kenya and then waited for approximately one month before skipping that step entirely and directly emailing the volunteer coordinator myself. Something that had taken so much time to develop now seemed urgent and immediate. By this time, I had spoken with my supervisor at work who had been hearing of my dreams of Africa for quite some time and wasn't terribly surprised to discover that I was putting a plan into action. Initially, I had no idea as to how much time I could take off and when I originally approached the conversation with my boss, five weeks somehow sprang into my head as a reasonable amount of time to travel to Kenya. Five weeks. It seemed like the perfect amount of time to travel to Africa, do some volunteering and return home. It didn't seem too long or too short - just enough time to get some experience. Barring all complications and potential limitations that could be placed upon my travel via the executive director, my supervisor agreed that five weeks was a possibility. I emailed a woman named Marlies, expressing my interest in volunteering. I proposed the five weeks and attached my resume. Then, I waited another month.
That was a long month. I imagine my waiting for her response was similar to a child writing Santa Claus and then waiting for Christmas morning to arrive to see if their wishes were answered by the jolly guy upstairs. When she finally wrote back I spent 2.3 seconds being terrified to open the email and then another 1.4 seconds deciding that was ridiculous. Email opened, the first few lines read beautifully....."perfect fit..." "skills and experience are very relevant...." "love to have you....." Then came the however....."however, we would prefer for you to come no less than two to three months in order for the children and workers to get used to you." Well, that was never going to happen. Balloon, deflated, flying around the room making that puhhhhhhhhhffffffff noise.
Enter racking brain to see how I could make this work.