Oh, the places you’ll go

About ten years ago, I was a resident of Kenya. I was teaching there as part of a young adult volunteer program organized by the ELCA. Fresh out of college, leaving behind heartbreak, hoping for adventure, and genuinely wanting to make the world a better place…you know the story. I landed as an English teacher in a rural village that didn’t even have a name, really, in the southwest corner of Kenya, just a skip away from both Uganda and Tanzania. Funny enough, the first and only time I lived alone was in this rural patch of east African savannah. Here’s my first house:

Ten years passed in a flash, and it took me until last night to get around to digitizing all of the 35-mm pictures I took. In 2003, digital cameras were becoming ubiquitous, but memory cards were still expensive, and I didn’t have a way to transfer photos off the memory card. Relying on old-fashioned film seemed the safest bet. Oh, the regret! Many of the photos are just terrible–grainy, out of focus, poor contrast. Stuff you notice and fix immediately on a digital camera. I scanned the negatives using a Veho Slide and Negative Scanner, which did a fine job of it. But my ten-year delay in tackling this project was unfortunate; many of the negatives had been scratched or damaged during their years in less-than-delicate storage.

I don’t know what took me so long. Or, maybe I do. There’s a reason I don’t scrapbook, and I don’t re-read old letters (although I have a file drawer full of them). These artifacts pick open emotional vaults. As a 22-year-old living alone in rural Africa, I imagined my life from that point on would be a series of equally great, eclipsing-ly crazy adventures. That hasn’t quite turned out to be the case. Adventures have become smaller, more subtle…backpacking trips, marriage, short international vacations, buying a home, learning a career…thus far, it’s been a life much more stable (and much less risky) than I had imagined for myself.

Not that I’m complaining. I’m actually a pretty risk-averse person, so this life suits me well.

But these photos do bring to mind so many stories, and I can’t begin to tell them in one blog post…so maybe I’ll chip at it a story at a time. One of my Kenyan friends said “You have to see where you’ve been to know where you’re going.” I’ve been some interesting places.


One thought on “Oh, the places you’ll go

  1. Pingback: Little free library | baD.I.N.K.adink

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