I’ve been back in town for a couple days.
I pulled an all-nighter working on the Aioun lab and then we left town and drove 14 hours through the night to Nouakchott. The only sleeping I did during a 36 hour period was sitting up in a car seat. I, naturally, spent my first day back asleep. Yesterday the internet was dead here, so I didn’t get caught up on much.
Here I am though and with my handy list of interesting things to mention.
The thing that has been foremost on my mind other than sleeping since I got back has been Molly. I spent about a week in Aioun and the other half in Kiffa and Kankossa with Molly. We spent some time together right after WAIST as well.
I enjoy being around because she is bright and playful with a tinge of angst which resonates with me. Unfortunate incompatibilities in what we seek in a significant other precludes the possibility of romance, but hanging out with her and talking is entertaining regardless.
Sadly this time it was less fun since Easter is two weeks out and I am still practicing my rutabaga imitation. The word that comes to mind to describe her attitude toward my language problem is the French verb dÃ©ranger means “to bother.” The reason it comes to mind though is its more dramatic English cousin derange meaning “to make insane” or in this case “to piss off severely.”
I was staying at Molly’s house and she accused me of violating the sanctity of the English safe zone within its walls. She did have an excellent point. Kankossa is a three hour drive across sand dunes from the nearest paved road. There’s only one other fluent English speaker in town (the other volunteer) and they don’t see each other all the time. Whereas I, in the big city with many people around, have to work at practicing my language she has no choice. The one place she gets away from it is with her friends and in her home and I came and despoiled both of those.
She also had some good points about “by what right” did I get to choose to make the lives of those around me more difficult by rendering myself unable to communicate all but the most basic thoughts. I had discussed my desires to be less detached and more connected to those around me and she said this seemed to fly in the face of that.
My position was that a big part of the point with Lent is to choose something and see it through. Jesus didn’t go hang out in the desert for a week, say “Damn I’m hungry, I could sure go for a hamburger,” and leave. He was there for forty days even though, as I can vouch, the desert is a rough place to hang out.
(There is also the counterpoint I’m not Christian by any traditional definition, not that a Christian would likely give up English anyhow for Lent.)
The French thing has been probably one of the harder things I have done for Lent. Not talking at all was easier than this since it was both for less time and in a place with more distractions. While it forced me to seem a bit odd, it didn’t force me to do something I am actively bad at.
In the end with Molly I took a couple dispensations and started reading and writing in English as well as recounting stories. With the everyday talking I decided that even though was extremely tiring and exasperating I was going to stick to it.
Molly, like others in my life before, got a taste of the fact that there are a variety of things more easily accomplished than getting me to change my mind once it is made up. These things include: going faster than the speed of light, blotting out the sun, walking on water, and teaching an old dog new tricks. In short, I wouldn’t budge on the issue and we subsequently passed the next two days largely in silence broken by brief rehashes of our positions.
I wrote her a letter before I left apologizing for the whole violation of sanctity thing and expressing a desire that we could be friends in the future. I really do respect that she has a much harder time that I do. I made the decision to go back out to Kankossa not knowing that it would be a problem. Lent is important to me though and I felt like I had adapted some and that she needed to work a little harder to adapt to my desires.
Honestly, I’ve got hope. My sense is that our personalities are well suited even if we do have a lamentable quantity of stubbornness in common.
To briefly touch on another issue in the key of women put off by Will’s personality, Steph’s journal today included this tidbit:
“Justin is not Will and I need to stop my fear in its tracks that he
will become him. When I compare, when I expect things to happen- I
so shortchange Justin and how he makes me feel. And that is simply
not fair and something he doesn’t deserve.
“I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop- but it hasn’t.
“I keep waiting for the moods to kick in- but they haven’t.
“I keep waiting to be ignored- but I’m not.”
Again, I know that some of my beloved readers dislike what they perceive to be an unhealthy habit of continued attention on Steph when distance would likely give me time to recenter. I respect the position, but as you’ve likely noticed from the increasingly introspective (and depressive) tone of my journals, I’m working on some identity stuff and she is someone who knows me better than nearly anyone else. Even though all she sees is not clear, it is an important way for me to be able to see myself.
I don’t think I’m a good match for a whole lot of people. The things I’m looking for in my life are a little bit different from alot of people. I’m ok with not making everybody happy. The hope is still alive though that I will find someone who is looking for the sorts of things I am. At this point I’m more content to wait than to try and become someone new.