All posts tagged: expat

on an upswing

Somewhere in there I lost myself, I tipped into the darkness that comes around every now and again, pays a visit without invitation, overstays its welcome. The darkness of old would shock me into submission, steamroll me to the point of immobility. And, looking for something to blame, I’d get lost in arguments with myself about the origins of my own depression – circumstance, coincidence, fate, dumb luck, or my own mistakes and missteps. I’d resisted the shadows as best I could, thinking I could hold them back. Once I realized I could not, I opened the doors and welcomed them: Let’s have a go, let’s make our way down the stairs, and sit for a while in the darkness at the bottom.

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on Roda, and resilience

Roda invited us into her tea shop, a wooden frame of sticks and crunchy, curled, leaves shading customers from the sun. We had made our way into rural Somaliland for monitoring activities, and at one stop we chatted with Roda, businesswoman and single mother of six. A tea kettle sat on smoking logs, and we sat on woven mats on the ground. birds flitted through the leaves above us, chirping away. At the time, Roda was doing pretty well for her family: she had a decent income from her tea shop, and she owned a couple cows. She was making it work, holding it together. I’ve been thinking about Roda during the past few weeks as the drought in Somalia and Somaliland slides quickly into something much worse. Of all the things we’re able to control in the modern day, the weather just isn’t one of them (yet), and this corner of the world is especially vulnerable to climate change. I think also about community, and its power to manifest resilience in the individual. In this place, community is fierce; a Somali with …

on winter in the Horn

‘Tis the season here in Somaliland: winter winds, chilly temperatures, and thick layers of morning fog all around. It’s enough to keep you in bed much later than you intended. Truth be told, I’ve been waiting for this moment; last winter surprised and delighted me, cold weather devotee that I am. I hadn’t imagined I would wrap up in sweaters or pull on socks in this relatively arid climate – camels, cacti and wool hats seemed like unlikely pairings. But here we are again, and I’m doing my best to take full advantage. Thanks to later dawns and earlier sunsets, I snuggle in bed as long as I can. Breakfast under cover (quite literally) has become a beloved ritual. When I manage to peel myself off the mattress, a polite but impatient (canine) spirit awaits me, ready to charge the clouds of fog and greet the day. (Don’t let her fool you, though–given the right bedding she’s as lazy as they come). Winter morning walks in our neighborhood are truly stunning, once you shake off the …

on a potluck

I left my first job in Somaliland last week, to join a different organization just down the road. Serendipitously, my last day at the old gig coincided with the US Thanksgiving holiday, so all my gratitude was thrown into one bucket. To celebrate, our office hosted a lunch potluck. Some were concerned that things wouldn’t go off well, given this was an unknown holiday (by the majority) and a new dining concept (potluck). In the end, though, things went swimmingly, staff brought mountains of food, and we indulged to our hearts’ content: Somali classics, Ethiopian loaners, American standards, pizza and burgers (but of course@),  and more. Appropriately, this post is an ode to gratitude, for a number of things perhaps elementary but also fundamental. Work | For employment, period; for a relatively seamless and drama-free transition; for 9-to-5s and side projects alike; for the organic relationships that grow from contrived collaboration and the friendships that develop among colleagues. Love | For the give-and-take, for the patience, learning, and maturing that emerges inevitably (though not always painlessly) from being in loving …

on a trip to Berbera

Time passes, and there you are doing things you didn’t know were possible: harvesting tomatoes; meeting ministers; winning the trust of neighbors; chatting with cargo ship crew from New Jersey at the Berbera port; stripping down to bathing suits on a Somali beach, guarded by baby camels and soldiers with AK-47s. You made it, and the story no longer writes itself; you’ll have to put pen to paper and craft the day anew each morning. Here’s to relentless adventure.