(Note: Internet went down in Beira on July 17 and didn’t come on again until after I left. I’ve been traveling through Zimbabwe for the last week and am finally in London and back online.
Written on July 16.)
When I moved to Mozambique, I was given a housing set-up allowance since there was no apartment for me. Because I had lived so temporarily in Houston for three years, never properly settling in, and because I was planning to be in Mozambique long term – and even if it was only going to be 18 months – I wanted it to be my home. Even if it was temporary, I didn’t want it to feel temporary.
So I put some thought and energy into setting up my new home. I found a set of cute matching dishes at PEP and bought two so that we could entertain. I found a nice set of glasses, nice serving dishes, a good set of knives. I found pretty sheets at the blue Chinese shop. Over the months, we decorated our walls with batiks and paintings and framed photographs. We built up a reading library and a DVD collection. We cooked dinner from scratch and ate at home most nights, often inviting other over to join us. Our guest room was in use many weeks of each month. Then we got the living room set, and our home was comfortably complete. It was home in a very real sense.
Now I’m a guest in my home. My ‘replacement’ at Oasis, who lives in a different apartment than I did but in the same neighborhood, has been looking after/using my all my household things. She’s set up a lovely home. With all my things.
Added to the ache of knowing I’m saying good-bye was a new ache when I walked into the apartment. Oh look, there are the cute dishes on the kitchen shelf. There’s my purple polka-dot tea mug and Lyndsay’s and Laura’s for when she came to stay. I’m sleeping on my sheets in a Marina-shaped dent in her foam mattress that we haggled for in Maquinino market. I’m using the pink towel my mom gave me from her extras, just like the one she gave me to take to Houston. The lotion in the bathroom is the good Body Shop one H. gave me for Christmas in Namibia. There are the books Renee sent me in the packages labeled “tampons” so that the post office wouldn’t open and steal them.
There are stories behind everything. My ‘replacement’ doesn’t know any of them. It’s just ‘stuff’ to her, conveniently left behind. But that life that I had in that home, sharing meals around the table, those people who did that then are all ghosts now. None of us are in Mozambique anymore. It was for that season, no matter what our long term intentions may have been.
I’ll pack my books and capulanas and the basket that Pastor Sande’s Sena-speaking mother made. I’ll leave the wok and the colorful serving bowl and most of my clothes. I guess it’s time for me to find a new set of cute dishes.