The Lightness of Leaving

On Sunday we’ll leave Lesotho and head to Johannesburg. From there I fly to London and Kathryn flies to Paris. I have a flight to Spain afterwards (it’s strange and interesting how these flights booked & bought with miles work, thanks again Han Arnett!) but it seems the easiest way to meet up with Kathryn is to ditch my Spain flight and just fly or train or something straight from London to Paris and meet up with Kathryn there.

One of my (brilliant) friends (Catherine Kastleman) wrote to me: How buoyant the spirit is when traveling, when nothing is normal and yet everything is still somehow miraculously fine. I want to be more like water, skipping joyfully over and around obstacles in my way, flowing with intent but willing to be diverted to reach my goal. 

We have a few different options for getting from Maseru to Johannesburg: minibus, bus, taxi. We’ll probably rent a car though. It felt great on our route from Cape Town to Maseru to be untethered, to be flexible to our own whims in the moment, in the same way as it feels fun making these decisions on the fly. It’s a luxury I know many folks don’t have. I didn’t always have it myself, and right now it’s largely due to my luck and the generosity of others.


Joey is one of the guys with the Kick4life acting club, he asked
When’ll you be back? Never?
No no, not never. I’m not sure. Not this year. Maybe next year? Next summer maybe.
Well then I’m coming with you when you leave and I’ll be back next summer maybe. 
That sounds great! We’d have a lot of fun. You could always stay with us.
Sure, sure. And all expenses paid by you, right?

He’s making sure it’s clear to me that he’s kidding. The friends we’ve met here aren’t the type to bemoan their state. But they’d still love to get out of here.

The art of leaving isn’t hard to master; so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster. Leave something every day. The art of leaving isn’t hard to master. I left two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster, some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent. I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster…
(Blasphemously distorted from Ms. Bishop for my purposes.)

Kathryn and I went out last night to shoot a music video for a couple of the guys, Nub and Samkay.

They have a band together and at least one song recorded. It’s a rather clean, religious-sounding pop song. I can’t get it out of my head.
These kids seem like big city kids in the way they look and dress, but they’ve hardly ventured into South Africa, much less out to the rest of the world. They don’t mope about it or anything, and they’re upbeat fun-loving folks, but the dream of mobility surfaces in their lyrics.
Oh Lord please send me an angel to lead me out of this place. Take me away..
Once we finish the video I’ll post it.

I remember when I was a kid, it was clear that my Mom felt trapped in the US away from her family and her old friends. Just like for the folks here, money was an everinsuperable barrier to anything we wanted to do. Combined with an uncertain visa situation, we wondered if we’d ever go back there. Today everything seems possible. While we don’t have the money in our bank accounts every day, we have income and we have connections. We’re hardly rich but it feels like a binary, night and day shift. My family didn’t have mobility before and now we do.

I can’t imagine not returning here. It would even feel strange to say it’ll be more than a year before we return, even if that’s the most likely scenario. Jay has discussed returning here, and a potential trip with us to Zimbabwe. It sounds too good to be true. I’m loving it here, but looking forward to our adventure this week in Paris, and through France and Spain. And of course, I love Carrboro and miss my friends there a lot. It’ll be great to be rooted there, back with my writing and my family. But what if we never stopped? What if we stayed in Malawi, Lesotho, or Cape Town or the Crags, sure. But what if we never came back to any of these. If we made money however we will. If I kept accumulating and revising drafts of plays, poems, and essays and Kathryn collected interviews, photos, and synthesized them into different shapes and projects. Growing in our work and in our love together, being anchored always in no matter what storm.

When I’m leaving I’ll tend to focus on the next moment, shifting my mind to the new country and people and work. I rarely say goodbye. My kneejerk response is a cheerful, See you soon! Sometimes it’s fine, reasonable, friendly and appropriate. It’s what I mean and want. And sometimes it sounds like denial, an endearing pretending that people don’t really depart of divorce, that it won’t be long before we see each other even if it will be. Even if it will be never. I don’t know that much about final endings like that, fortunately.
…well actually, while I don’t like lifelong grudges, it’s unlikely I’ll make the effort to see my Dad before he dies. Is this callous, inappropriate? So it goes. Maybe he’s an extreme example…

It’ll be easier to stay in touch with any of these kids here than it would have been for my Mom with her family fifteen years ago. Because of their speed, emails are such a powerful tool in connecting us. I can nearly effortlessly send messages like this. We’re on the verge of big things. More soon.

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1 comment
  1. Kamohelo molise(kaymore) said:

    Having a great tym wit u is such an undeleatable memory.we r already missing you bt hope ull get back nextyear.

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