“This is why I didn’t want to come in the first place,” she sobs. “Because I knew I’d have to leave all my friends here. Why did you have to do this to meeeee!”
I pat her back and tsk-tsk, but inside I smile at her edited memory (That's not why you didn't want to come, dearie) and because she is actually, oh joy, sad to leave! We had hoped the children, at least some of them, would connect enough that leaving would be hard, so, Yay success, and, Pass the tissues.
Last week, one of our teammates asked her which place she liked best, Virginia or Guatemala, and she said Guatemala.
All this, coming from the child who was the most resistant. Wonders never cease.
In the past two days:
*I spent both mornings visiting with the teachers in the teachers’ room. Topics covered: Syria, how pregnant/menstruating women (or simply anyone who is sweaty hot) has the ability to break the set on a pudding, census counting, the separation (or lack thereof) between Catholics and Evangelicals, polygamy, recipes, etc. We laughed a lot.
*The new neighbors came up to the house to invite us to their little boys’ birthday party on Sunday.
*Walking into town, another neighbor’s green Mercedes slowed instead of passing us, the window rolled down, and the woman, the mother of one of my older son’s classmates, offered us a ride. We accepted, of course.
*This morning, the school director greeted me with a warm, two-armed hug and a firm kiss on the check.
*Shop owners call out to me by name. Taxi drivers ask after “Mister John.” A teacher from my children’s school interrupts a cell phone conversation to toss a greeting my way.
*Walking back from town, three K’ekchi’ women asked me to walk with them. We talked about pregnancy, mostly. The young-looking mother had 10 children. (The youngest was 11. She was 40. Oof.)
In the beginning, no one knew us. We were just people from The Rich North. I felt that people only viewed us as Money Bags. It made my skin crawl.
But I don’t feel that way anymore (or at least not nearly as much). Little by little, we have woven ourselves into the fabric of this community. We are becoming known for who we are: neighbors, co-workers, friends, market customers, and the parents of four very different children who each have their own friends, classmates, and teachers.
Our web of connection has grown steadily thicker and stronger. Given more time, it would no doubt transform into a sturdy safety net.
But soon we will extricate ourselves from our baby web and fly back to Virginia, the sticky tendrils still clinging to our feet.