It’s strange to try and prepare myself to return to Denver on Sunday night. As I write this, it is a surprisingly cool 75 degrees in Colombo (90’s later but enjoying this for now!) and Denver will be 11 degrees – an ill-timed cold snap to welcome us back. It’s not just the weather that gives me pause…it is also trying to re-adjust my entire being to return to a place that is more white than brown. The irony of feeling these feelings and landing in the US before MLK Day doesn’t escape me.
Unless you are a brown or black person who lives in a white-dominant place, what I am going through in these last days in Sri Lanka is not something that you will understand. I can’t explain what it FEELS like for me to go from seeing my own people every day, living life at all levels of society from the street sweeper to the CEO, to Denver where I must intentionally seek out spaces where there are more like me than not. I can’t explain what A GIFT it is to introduce myself without needing to spell my name out every single time and help people with pronunciation. Here, I wake up to the familiar tune of the bread truck (like the ice cream van in the US), a bird symphony outside my bedroom window, and the startling, insistent honk from the public buses hurtling down the street.
It’s not just the sounds that are totally different. It’s the very air that surrounds me, the way my skin feels, or my hair looks here versus there. It is the way my heart beats, what my thought patterns are and how quickly they move in my brain. It is an expansive feeling in my gut that I don’t experience in America. My whole being moves through the day in a different way when I am in Sri Lanka, with my people, hearing my language each and every day.
Trust me, I am very much looking forward to enjoying reliable WIFI, cars that obey traffic laws, a washer AND dryer, not having my clothes stick to my skin at the end of the day and being able to sleep in my own bed after 3 weeks! However, this overall cellular sense of being HOME is something I will miss dearly until I return to my brutally beautiful island again. Until next time…