occupied

June 1, 2013

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So it ends. A school year done. A year half spent in one part of the world, half spent in another. Half spent in a land of guns, half spent in a land of . . . a land of what? Shortly after I arrived, a few weeks into life here, one of my friends asked me what my main impression of the country was so far. She clarified the question by telling me the one-word that had stuck with her when she tried to describe it. It took me a while to come up with one word, having been rather overwhelmed up to that point with the logistics of settling, home-making, and adjusting to a new sort of job. But once I had, I gave the word “occupied.” I explained that I had come from a lifestyle in which much of one’s time was spent waiting. Waiting for the conflict to stop. Or waiting for it to begin again, as oftentimes the case, when peace had lasted for long enough that we knew it could not last much longer . . . the proverbial bomb would have to drop.
To be here, then, where people seem to just pile on top of one another, bustling about with various agendas, I couldn’t quite get over the feeling of busyness. Everyone just seemed “occupied” with something . . . anything? Not to mention the fact that my friend and I were, at the time, in the middle of one of those cross-town bike rides that was, to say the least, harrowing for the first couple months of my time here.
Now, as I remembered that conversation, suitcase open and in mid-packing, the irony hit me for the first time. Occupied. Why would I ever choose that word to describe a state of busy-ness? I guess my mind at the time was thinking of the word “preoccupied.” But now, all that comes to mind when I hear it is the military connotation. Could it be that my last home remains with me still? Could it be that for all my daily work stresses here, there remains an underlying [though quickly fading] remnant of all the ways my war-torn home left me touched . . . wounded? It could be.
But back to what I began to write when I started this post: the school year. To celebrate the last school day I had dinner and a movie with one of the families at the school. We joked about kids’ antics of the day, reflected on the year, and planned together for next year, as this family will be helping me with a little sports venture I’m planning to start up in the fall. Then we laughed heartily at the goofy humour of a close-to-home adolescent flick. In between dinner and the movie, I was beginning to wash up in the kitchen when J called me over to the balcony. “You have to come here now!” she exclaimed. I dried my hands and went over to join her, gasping at the sight of my first rainbow sighting here. Scratch that—it was actually two rainbow sightings.
A fitting way to commemorate this day in the life of a year, I think ☺

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