Kumasi Our Life

The Unraveling

UnravelingMy day begins and ends with Chocolate. A steaming cup of rich Ghanaian cocoa at dawn and a Dove promise melting on my tongue as I read myself to sleep. I find the sameness of this routine a necessary comfort as we transition from our African life back to our life in the States.

The clock is ticking louder these days. We leave Ghana exactly five weeks from today, spend five nights in Morocco and land in Raleigh December 7th.

No matter how much you plan, transition takes its toll. The sorting, packing, winding up projects, checking off the last things on our ‘must do before leaving Ghana’ list, selling furniture, saying goodbye to friends we likely will never see again. The yearning for our old life back in the States, knowing that things will have changed, people will have moved on, that it won’t be the same life we left – all of it is hard on the soul. I feel like my life is unraveling.

Bob and I have been through this many times before and yet still face the same challenges. We are doing our best to suppress panic at what lies on the other end of our journey. We struggle to turn off our racing brains at 2am and return to sleep. Wondering how many weeds will have moved into our gardens and what we’ll do for money on the other end. Trying not to think about how much we’ll miss the tropics and the good friends we’ve made over the past 16 months.

When I’m out on the streets of Kumasi I find myself bouncing wildly between moments of pre-departure nostalgia and intense irritation. “Oh, look at that!” I said to BJ yesterday, pointing at a black man sitting high atop an overloaded truck of raw lumber, “We won’t see anything like that in the States.”

One minute I’m tearing up at the sight of a mother washing her naked children in a steel tub beside the road, the next I’m cursing the insistently honking taxi drivers. From ecstatic over my new custom tailored skirt to cringing from the body funk of someone passing me on the street a moment later. I’ve become schizophrenic. Unstable. Unraveled.

A scene from the movie “Like Water for Chocolate” keeps flashing through my mind. Tita, denied her true love, has put her energy into knitting a scarf. She finally has a nervous breakdown and is taken away in a wagon, the scarf rolling out of the wagon and trailing behind covering the road between her old life and her new one. Whenever this image of Tita’s scarf comes to me, I imagine myself pulling the yarn out of it as I prepare to make a new scarf. Indeed, I feel as if I’m pulling apart my life here in order to create a new life on the other side.

And so with only 5 weeks to go, Bob and I cling to our routines. Getting up at dawn to check email, big bowls of pineapple, Kentucky Fried Tofu on Sundays, walking to market on Mondays, moseying about in the garden, dinner at sundown with some old TV show or a portion of a movie and reading in bed with chocolate. All of these things help us stay grounded enough to disassemble our household without getting totally unraveled.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

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