Sunday, May 4, 2008


4/4/2008 OH I AM EXHILARATED. And this time, it is not because of newness or discovery or achievement. It is because of things so beloved and important to me—it is because yesterday, a car came to my village with ten letters for me, me, Jessica, my American name written out on all of them in the familiar, precious script of friends and family. I still cannot believe it, the impossibility of getting mail here, overcome! Tenfold! And to add to the excitement, I’d gone to the market in Badagishiri that morning, so my table was overflowing with: 2 cabbages, 5 tomatoes, 1 bag of dates, 8 red onions, 9 carrots, and 2 little bags of candy (which looks like pieces of white chalk but tastes like a circus).

SO: not only is my belly well fed, but my heart and my spirits are soaring. Here is how I dealt with my unimaginable good fortune: I divided the mail to allow myself 1 letter per day, to be read in the order they were postmarked, in the hopes that perhaps in 10 days I might be able to get mail again (wishing makes it so, right? Bothun taught me that). Alas, my plan did not get executed so neatly…I just got so very HAPPY about everything that I ended up reading 3 letters right away…but then I was distracted (good!) by the 3 volunteers visiting me. Then: a variety of things happened and it became night, and oh man am I in trouble because last night was So Hot. I was just laying there, sweating a shadow of myself onto my sheet, limply considering things like swimming, skiing, sailing…and remember, I had guests---3 of them---and as I lay there in a puddle I wondered “Are they sleeping? Are they hot?” I tried whispering their names, but in my dehydrated semi-conscious state my voice was not very loud…so I just kind of hung out all night, alone in my mosquito net, sweating…until 4am when John stumbled out of his sweat lodge, at which point I was elated to be sharing misery. We had a brief conference in which we concurred that yes, holy &@% it was hot. And then I think we each felt even better, because we’d confirmed our individual sanities.

SO ANYWAY—back to my favorite topic, mail: Given my sleep-deprived state, by noon the next day I was a bit of a mess, and my friends left to beat the midday heat, and I was feeling a bit needy (and hot), so I opened the rest of the letters and read each one at least twice and cried all over (happy!) and tried to take a nap but couldn’t, so I read them all again and cried a bit more, because I LOVE YOU GUYS! And then N'arba came over to take me to a baby naming ceremony, so I got up to go, and she said matter-of-factly: “But you can’t go like that because you look dirty”. Great. So I changed my skirt and off we went….

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