Two days ago I finally said goodbye to a man I loved. I gave him my heart. He gave me a gallon of bleach he couldn't take with him to Africa. In all honesty, he also gave me a year rich in experience, in understanding compassion and patience, and in love--raw and consuming as it was. (In all honesty, for my birthday a couple of months ago he also gave me a gift card for a day spa which I can't wait to use on Saturday!)
I also said goodbye to a life I thought I wanted to live. Exciting, exotic, and very different from the one I'm accustomed to living, one of what I considered security, importance, intellect, diversity and cultural exchange, and politics. Now it has filled itself back up with books and oral exams, marathon training, and apron making. I decided the best way to mend was through stretching my mind and my legs, through creating with my hands. Right now it doesn't really fill the emptiness, but one day it will. I believe.
I sort of feel like I'm at a crossroads, like I'm shedding one skin and exposing myself to another. I remember one time when I worked with the Young Women in Harlem. At our New Beginnings activity, one of the leaders told the girls they had to wear Sunday dress, and brought some of her own white NYC career woman skirts for the black projects girls to wear. One refused, saying bluntly, "Those is not my skins." Right now I don't feel like I'm in my skins. I know, I know--it's all about time. I'll grow into myself; I'll find my own new life. And one day I'll again be comfortable and embrace the skins I'm in.
But for now, with the farewell, I'm reminded of one of my favorite Book of Mormon concepts: deliverance. I echo what dear Helaman wrote to Moroni after fighting incredibly difficult battles with his small, seemingly flailing band: "Blessed is the name of our God; for behold, it is he that has delivered us; yea, that has done this great thing for us" (Alma 57:35). I believe that in the delivery from old to new, from past to future, that we experience tender mercies. I believe in saying goodbye we also say hello to newness.
And so to him I say: May you find true peace, true joy, and true deliverance in Africa. And thank you for the bleach. And the memories.