The Countdown Begins…


10 days of school days left.

19 days until I leave Macha.

25 days until I leave Zambia.

31 days until I’m home.


The countdown actually began about six weeks ago, when I became acutely aware of how little time I have left here, when the days really started flying by.


Yes, I miss a lot of things from home.  I miss berries and cream cheese and homemade salads with grilled chicken.  I miss baked goods and shared microbrews and MacDonald’s french fries.  I miss pea coats and lattes with friends and unlimited Internet.  I miss the sound of trendy boots clicking on pavement and the feel of carpet squished between my toes. And – above all – I miss my family and friends from back home.


But I’d be lying if I said I’m eager to come back.


I’ll miss nshima and roasted maize and finger-length bananas.  I’ll miss sunsets and shared chibwantu and being called “Madame!”  I’ll miss racing my bike along bumpy dirt paths and being able to wrap two meters of fabric around my waist and call it a skirt.  And though at times my task-oriented side has bumped elbows with it, I’ll miss the emphasis on being over doing, the inbuilt emphasis on relationships.


While I’m definitely eager to see my family and friends back home, I’m very much not eager to say goodbye to people here – my co-workers in MCC and at the school, my friends in the expatriate community, my fellow choir and Sunday school members, and my host family.  And the goodbyes have already started.


Funny how, in my first few months here, I was rushing towards the finish line as time passed like molasses.  Now, I’m digging my heels in the ground as time is dragging me forward.


But I guess that’s how all of life’s big transitions are, or at least how they’ve been for me: I’m uneasy as they approach – even if they’ve got promise of good things to come.  After they’ve come, I tumble around a bit in the shockwave, feeling flustered and nomadic and alone.  And then as time passes, I get comfortable and find peace and purpose.


So I know that’s what will happen again, when I come back home. I know that as my heart ached for my family and friends when I came to Zambia, it will ache for the family and friends I’ve left here when I’m back in the USA.  That I’ll try to make my own nshima, and wear chitenge skirts around the house anyways, and find myself wanting to start every sentence with, “When I was in Zambia…” driving everyone around me a little nuts. That I’ll slowly realize how much and in what ways I’ve changed this last year and figure out how this “new” me will inhabit my “old” life – and find peace and purpose again.

Categories: Uncategorized | 23 Comments

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23 thoughts on “The Countdown Begins…

  1. jessicadmartin

    This is beautiful. I can’t wait to eat your nshima, wear chitenges together, and listen to “when I was in Zambia…” stories all day long. I feel privileged to share life with someone who is “all in” on every situation, and digs their roots in deep wherever they land. People are changed when they cross paths with you, my friend, and that is a gift.

  2. Carol Brown

    You may be reluctant to leave, but everyone here can HARDLY WAIT to have you back!

    Love, Aunt Carol

  3. Natalie

    This made me cry, which is 85% exhaustion and hormones, but at least 15% empathy. I HATE transitions. And I was only in Zambia for less than 2 weeks but I missed it a ton when I came home. Your heart has been forever changed in a beautiful way. I’m equal parts excited to welcome you back (with Cajun tots and sampler platters of local brews) and praying these final days stretch out slowly for you so you can soak them up for every last ounce of Zambian beauty. I love you so much!!

  4. Natalie

    Oh and also, I will absolutely wear chitenges with you and Jessica evvvvvverywhere.

  5. Emily,at least you have a time for countdown. I don’t even have enough days to count. I wonder if I will see you before I Leave Zambia.

  6. Oh, I remember this feeling.

    I didn’t realize there was a SALTer in Macha this year. Thank you for this. Reading your blog — while very few of the people in your pictures are familiar — I feel a bit nostalgic, perhaps homesick even, just for the place, and for the people I did meet there.

    And by the way, I still wear my chitenges. I usually tie them if I’m really making a wear-in-public skirt, but just this morning I wandered around in my chitenge instead of my bathrobe because it’s too hot even for a cotton bathrobe.

    (via the MCC newsletter)

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