So, Tall, Dark Handsome (TDH) just left after a whirlwind 36 hours in Beira. He took a bus and hitchhiked across Zambia and Mozambique to get here. We spent yesterday at the beach and this morning walked to the airport so he could fly on to the next stop. He’s got a bit of vacation time before wrapping up his work in Lusaka.
The beach was perfect. The water was probably 80 degrees and it was maybe 75 degrees in the shade. We spent a couple hours lounging on towels talking about our respective health projects. I didn’t realize how much this last week was eating at me until we started talking. He’s got many months of frustration under his belt and gave me a great perspective: it’s easy to let this kill you. It is much harder and more rewarding to find the joy in life when death is around every corner. He said he loves the way the Africans deal with the tragedies in their lives — it is always okay to move forward, find your happiness and celebrate it while you have it in hand. If anything, he said living here has taught him to appreciate living in the moment.
We walked to a beachside cafe and split a bottle of wine and a grilled fish. A mosque nearby was just finishing services and we watched humorously a few of the men trickled into the bar to have a beer afterward, trying to be as discrete as a Muslim in a bar on the beach can be. Ice cream vendors across the street pushed their small insulated carts, ringing the bell at every pedestrian. Fishermen in the sea wiggled large bed nets, catching tiny shrimp and fish to later sell in the market. We enjoyed every drop of tropical sun and cool breeze knowing we’ll both be back in the Arizona heat before we know it.
Several hours later we took a minibus back to the volunteer house and ended up eating fried chicken, brownies and ice cream for dessert and watching “Nacho Libre” with the other Americans. It was a strangely familiar way to end an otherwise perfect African day.
Walking home from the airport today, I realized how conflicted I was to see him leave. I am sad because I have so few friends who want to talk about Africa, health, faith. Then again, I hadn’t expected to see him at all. And so, I will celebrate the happiness while I have it.
I have this cadre of sweet, smart, good looking men in my life who are all simply my friends. At times it is confusing, but I’d rather have their friendships than avoid them all together. I learn from each of them (and often something annoying about myself too), including TDH and Salty Senor, that the occasional nervous flutter is manageable. I still think it is better to put yourself out there and be willing to love no matter how silly the circumstances than remain safely on the sidewalk, emotionless.