I’ve always considered myself a city girl. I’ve never lived on a farm. I like things being open past 8 pm. I don’t care how much it rains or how the crops are doing. The smallest place that I have ever lived is Sioux Falls, well technically Brookings for college, but I only lasted 3 semesters so I don’t think that counts. I always complained that I was forced to move there when I was ten years old. It was small.
Then I moved to a farm in the middle of the African bush and things changed. Big time.
I now have an unstoppable urge to greet everyone I pass. I need peace and quiet. I have to be by myself way more than the average person requires. I ask about the weather and crops. I am completely comfortable going anywhere by myself with nothing to do; no reading material, no phone, no notebook, no companion.
And after I left Zambia, South Dakota was perfect. I could sit in the backyard and enjoy all the peace and quiet I required.
Then I moved to a city with close to 5 million people, in a country with 1 billion.
I now fall asleep with my ceiling fan and Alicia Keys album on high to the masked sounds of a city teeming with life. Trucks passing by, horns honking and beeping, people yelling, sirens sounding, calls of prayer announced, the night watchman’s whistle. It gets to me. I feel myself going crazy because I can’t get one moment of silence.
I’ve started a hunt for quiet places here but so far they have eluded me. Even the coffee shops are loud. I walk around with my iPod on, not because I don’t want people to talk to me like in Zambia, but because it is the only way I can have a true moment to myself. A moment for my mind to be free, to wander aimlessly through my mind’s eye, to ponder where I want my life to go, to just think.
Zambia gave me plenty of time to think and sleep. I’ve become nostalgic for the 2 years of quiet, peaceful village time I enjoyed. Hours spent reading in my hammock, hours spent coloring and playing Uno with the kids, hours spent sitting in the family kitchen in the dark discussing life, hours sleeping, hours drinking coffee with nothing but the day to enjoy, hours of walking just to walk, hours enjoying the sunset. I yearn for it.
Unfortunately, those village days are behind me and I’m caught between needing the village and wanting the city.
It is time for me to figure things out, with noise.