This is my first “ungracefully Phoebs” post since being in Nairobi so I am happy that at least my overreacting and loneliness will produce another post in the series!
Our wifi has been out since last night and our power has been going in and out. Now I can hear you all saying “you are in Africa don’t expect wifi,” but as I have written Nairobi is quite a modern city which might be part of the problem. Things almost feel too familiar here at times that I think it makes me feel more homesick. Why spend my time at a big bar with Westerners when I can do the same thing in Boston?
So like any logical 30-year-old on an adventure I turned on my U.S. cell phone and called my mom and started to cry. I am now writing this blog post to pretend that I am not alone and convince myself I am in conversation with someone even if it is just me writing in a word doc that I won’t be able to post until the damn wifi comes back!
It is not just having no wifi it is it that it is night-time and there is no wifi. I will be so happy and sure of myself during the day and as soon as it is night-time I question my decision to be here, my dissertation, and the meaning of life. I keep telling myself that in the morning I will be back to being content and positive Phoebe (which is truly how I have felt most of the time here), but nighttime Phoebe doesn’t quite believe it. I am like a werewolf (or is it a vampire) except instead of an evil side that comes out at night my emotional, homesick, negative, and insecure side comes out.
I am always envious of people who are really good at being alone and who are super independent. Although as I read this over it is pretty damn independent to travel to Kenya by myself, plan my own interviews, and spend my days meeting with strangers. I might incorrectly assume that independent people are not lonely or scared, but maybe I am wrong. Not having wifi means I can’t email or text and have to be alone with myself. This whole trip feels like being alone even when I am around people. I am trying to be “competent researcher” or “good roommate” or “new friend” and haven’t yet let my guard down. I am scared if I become vulnerable here to someone I will look weak or fall apart. I am around people who have lived here for a while and I feel like the new kid at school trying to make friends, look cool, and not reveal how little they know and how nervous they are.
It could be that I am afraid of silence. Even at home in the U.S. when I am alone in the house doing something mundane I have to have a podcast in the background. Am I that afraid of being alone with my thoughts? Well right now I am really absorbing the pseudo silence. I can hear the sink that drips all night and people outside in the courtyard talking loudly and cheerfully to each other. I feel like I can hear my heart pounding but that is probably an overstatement.
I tried to put it off for as long as I could, but I did the thing where I start counting down days until I leave. My friend and I joke that we are obsessed with travel until we actually get there and then we want to go home. A goal before this trip was to really be present and enjoy it and remember that when I am home and when I can’t travel as easily I will be envious of this freedom and this time. So that is in contradiction with having a countdown. Time passes as the same rate whether I count it or not so I might as well try to be in each moment instead of waiting for the next to come.
My mom was comforting me and asking me if I have ever regretted any of my adventures. The answer is without a doubt that I have never ever regretted them. Even though last time I went to Kenya I got TB for 4 months and was miserable – I still wouldn’t have traded that experience. Even through all the travel annoyances that happen or the loneliness whether in a weird hotel in Germany owned by Russians or a beautiful apartment in Nairobi with no wifi it always seems to be worth it.
I just looked at my phone and had an email from earlier today I decided to open from some spiritual artistic lady. I usually never open these emails, but in my desperate state I figured I would read every email in my inbox. My friend would say the universe was winking at me with this email. I opened it and the first line in big font was, “The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. – Osho”