Naija World Live: 4 Days and the Reality Sets In

by pronounced "ahhh" like a sigh

The floor of my bedroom is a mess. A few days ago, using my UFYH App, I went through the process of organizing and straightening up. I wanted things to be orderly when I got back from my trip. At this point though, I hadn’t even begun to pack so why I thought I could clean a week before I went anywhere, I’m not sure.
So now, the floor of my bedroom is a mess. The same suitcase that traveled with me to South Africa lies on my bedroom floor filled with clothes and shoes; asking the same question, “What else?” I filled with every shoe I think I  might need. A few pairs of jeans. Dresses and dresses. underwear. Toiletries. Jewelry. Still it lies, there, mouth wide and endless, “What else?”
I respond, workout clothes. A Jacket. Another sweater. More underwear. Perfume. Lotion.
She accepts these quietly, even making room for them. I stand over her certain I’ve packed it all but equally certain I’ve forgotten something important.

She knows, she whispers this time, “What else?”

Courage. Strength. Reassurance. The unconditional and inescapable love of my baby. Hope. Whatever the opposite of fear is. Confirmation. Faith. Laughter. Peace. Calm. Whatever the opposite of worry is.  Support. Encouragement. Whatever the opposite of failure is.

Is any of that TSA approved? I don’t know if it will fit in my carry on. I just need to it with me.

My bedroom floor is a mess. As I sit on my bed, writing this and surveying what’s been packed and what needs to be packed. The very 730 AM of this startles me. I’ve been awake for 2 hours. Lately, my dreams have been come more vivid and the push me awake at 5:30 certain that they are real. And I guess they are real somewhere. I’m just not sure why they’ve built themselves into 3-D image and sound now.

This trip to Nigeria is as much about connecting with my past as it is about building a future for myself and for my family. The last time I was there, I was 18 and newly graduated from high school. I was a few months from starting college and the world was prepped and ready for me. Then, I was innocent and young and naive. Never been kissed and unaware of the illness that would eventually cut my college career short.   Now, I’m 36, a single mother. I’ve seen a career skyrocket and then eventually stopped short by an illness that I am now treating and managing successfully. I have my good days and bad days but I’m just grateful I’ve had days. I’m worried about how I will be received. I’m worried that my extended family will see me as a failure and not the success story they predicted for me. I know this is all in my head but some of it is real. My life turned out nothing like I wanted for myself let alone the expectations of others. I’ve been doing a lot of work to push those feelings aside and affirm what I have done and who I am.
My therapist tells me constantly with exasperation and concern, “You are entirely too hard on yourself.” She says this every week and every week, I shrug and say, “I don’t think I’m hard enough on myself.” She’s right, of course. This journey is part of that. Trying to feel like I deserve the good stuff and stop being afraid that with the good immediately comes the bad. I’m not a pessimistic person by nature. I picked up this annoying habit around 6 years ago. It was on it’s way 3 years before that.
I don’t know where I’m going with this and I’m riffing right now but what I do know is that I’m ready. I’m scared. I’m nervous. I’m anxious. I’m not sure what the next few weeks holds for me but I’m ready.

I’m going to miss my boy but he has school while I’m gone. My sister will be here to take him. My family, as always, where he is concerns steps right in and fills the gaps. The other day, he offered me half of his UNO cards. He said, “I’ll  keep the other half so we can still play when you’re in Nigeria.” He then reminded me to keep my laptop and iPad charged so I wouldn’t be bored on the trip. “It’s a long, long, long trip”, He says, “I know you get bored sometimes.” That’s my kid. He’s annoying and talkative and can’t sit still but he’s a good person. He’s a kind, thoughtful, empathetic and compassionate person. And he deserves the best of everything and everybody he encounters. I’m doing this for him so that he will have everything he needs.

My bedroom floor is still a mess. My suitcase still wide and inquisitive asks me again, “What else?”

Nothing. I’ve got this.

Love someone and mean it,