I mulled over what to write here this week. I didn’t have anything pressing to tell all y’all. No topics popped into my brain, begging to be hashed out. Life has fallen into a rhythm and the twists and turns of every day have become less pronounced, which makes for boring blogging.
Fewer people taunt me on my morning runs, but fewer still cheer me on. It seems I am now, mostly, just a fixture and not worth much comment. It’s been weeks since a stranger has stopped me on the street, to ask me to marry them or to tell me how incredibly massive I am. On the one hand, I’m relieved that somehow I’ve stumbled upon a world where I’m called fat less often. On the other, I’m worried my looks have gone downhill now that fewer suitors are coming forth. Perhaps I’ve peaked.
So, I dug a little further into my private life and decided to take a page front my personal journal, quite literally. The following entry is a transcription from an earlier jot in the pen and paper account I keep of my time here.
Today, around sunset, I sat with a foundling puppy .Earlier he’d been the lucky recipient of a quarter-bag of beer jerky. I had spied him while resting on my porch’s hammock, and couldn’t resist sneaking him down some treats, even if it meant confused stares from my neighbors. I forced him to settle on my skirt as his tiny speckled paws worked to grip the meat on either side, holding it still long enough to gnaw until it gave way in his mouth.
He was finally quiet. He’d been yelping all day. Watching from the balcony, I had seen him with his little head back and his mouth rounded. I could tell they were meant to be bays, but being so small, all he could muster sounded more like someone stepping on his tail. He couldn’t have come into this world more than two or three months ago—he must have left his mother recently. Surely, he missed someone to snuggle into.
So there we sat, him sleeping happily against a sorely missed warm body and me watching his little mouth snarl and curl from a dream while fleas crisscrossed his body.
He reminded me of my situation here. Just as it was with that puppy, it is with Cameroon. I can’t save either. At the end of the day, my small offering is just that: small. Neither puppy nor Africa will remember me years from now. Neither will have their lives drastically changed by my actions.
In many ways, this place gifts me far more than I’m capable of providing in return. Unfairly, I still get to sleep in a warm bed every night. I still get a paycheck every month, even in the case of slow work or lazy bones. A few afternoons at an orphanage, or holding an abandoned dog, just helps me feel less guilt about all the taking I’m doing. In the end, I go back to America, and leave puppies and Cameroon, both, behind.
I’ll continue to try, though. I’ll march up and down hills to schools. I’ll brave bumpy roads and dust on the way to the Good Shepherd Home’s classroom. I’ll draw up posters, slap together lessons plans, and fret about whether or not it’ll all ever be enough.
Some days all you have is an hour of your time and a quarter-bag of beer jerky. And some days, that’s got to be okay for now.