When I wrote to family I will be taking a break, a part of me was hoping they would respond with something like, even if I ended it with don’t respond,
“I am here to talk.”
“Do not pressure yourself.”
“Are you ok?”
Not that I would have confided immediately, but I secretly wished to feel cared for. But I guess in trying to maintain a strong front, pushing off any help with a firm, “Just focus on yourself only. I can take care of myself.”, they themselves might not know how to do so.
Going into my break, I worried. I panicked. Are they ok? Are they hurt? Did I hurt them? Each time I reached for my phone to ask for their well-being, I gathered whatever strength I had not to. Then I drowned myself in Korean and Chinese dramas, Bollwood movies, music, writing, reading romance novels. Desperately leeching onto the happy endings of these art forms. Sometimes I was successful, sometimes I was not. And when I did not I cried myself to sleep, after another intense make out with the air.
Then I composed myself to respond to emails, write up speeches and practice poems to deliver on another virtual conference. It took so much out of me to take a break from my family, but to make myself take a break from saving our planet, our home? God, it would kill me. Even as I was fighting for breath and shakiness minutes before I had to go live and deliver as powerfully as I could, my mental strength would crash if I decided to prioritize myself before our earth, our home. Even if I might depart, my family still needs this home. Bubu, Jimma, and Mama their resting grounds cannot be under water. My people must survive. Millions of people cannot afford to migrate, lose homes, livelihood, security, traditions, legacy, and so much.
At times I wonder if I would be freer without these worries.
The roles I am tied to continue drain me. The fear, the uncertainties too great, trying to emulate hope and urgency when you yourself have become a plastic drowned, only to be willed by the waves.
Two weeks came too soon and I was unwilling to come out of the break. The first text I received was a list of things I needed to get. And I wanted to laugh and cry. These young ones. I felt reassured. So forthright in their wants and I love it. For I was never that way and I envy their ability to ask so unabashedly. I felt pained. Equally lacking was their consideration. The “How are you?” was left unwritten. My third week past, text left unanswered as I did myself wrong again. Shoved my butt-hurt self to the side to respond joyously. I was the older sister after all. I am and will always be the bigger person.
I wrong myself and I wrong them. For in always being the bigger, dutiful person, I leave them sorely incapable of being one themselves.