7am, Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam. The lines of jetstream in the sky seem to make a checkerboard. Or a hexagon. Or the giant apocalyptic throwing stars of rebel angels. Or something. You see all sorts...
Here’s my worry about going to Africa to see the Born HIV Free project in action: that I’m going to start crying the moment that I arrive, and just not stop. And that I am then going to feel guilty about crying, and that I’ll then cry about that.
I fly to Lesotho on Saturday. I was supposed to go to Napa Valley, first, to hang out with some lovely women and discuss things like life lists and dreams and pixie dust and to drink wine and be light-hearted, and for some reason, some ironic reason or some absurd reason, that – that beautiful little oasis of self-indulgence – was grounding me, was helping me keep my emotional wits about me. I don’t know why, exactly. Maybe because they are opposing poles on the same fuzzy dreamscape, whereupon I live a life in which I get to do things like spend weekends in Napa and also go and support humanitarian projects in Africa and I wanted to see them reconciled. Because these things, these actually very real things, are, however different, nonetheless connected, inasmuch as they both have everything to do with this, this thing that I do here, on this page that you are reading.
But things changed, and I’m not going to Napa Valley first, and it hit me this afternoon as I was pushing aside the pretty dresses in my closet to see what clothes might be appropriate for visiting orphanages in Lesotho – what does one wear to visit hospitals and orphanages in Lesotho? – that I had really been relying upon the whole idea of Napa Valley – the Mighty Summit – as a buffer against the soul-rattling hugeness of the journey to Africa. Or maybe not a buffer – a transitional zone.
Let me just get this out of the way: being detained and interrogated by the United States Department of Homeland Security because said Department doesn’t find it ‘convincing’ that ‘mom blogging’ could be a ‘business’ (skeptical finger quotes courtesy United States Department of Homeland Security) that warrants travel to conferences is, no question, nothing compared to being sentenced to death by stoning and other horrors that befall women outside of North America. I understand this. I know this. But. BUT.
Being detained and interrogated for any reason is really, really scary. It just is. And when it requires one to defend one’s choice of profession and the legitimacy of one’s work and, really, the credibility of any enterprise involving one’s status as a mother, well, it undermines one’s confidence, and also makes one cry.