Wednesday, April 30, 2014

There is no home like the one you've got...

Updates from Rwanda, Part 3

You know that scene in Almost Famous, where William Miller is getting further and further into life with the band and farther away from his home and life before he got the gig with Rolling Stone Magazine?

 He's on the bus, and he's freaking out because he is sort of feeling the last of his normalcy slipping away, and he turns to Penny Lane and says, “I need to go home!”

 And then Penny smiles, slow and wide, holds up her empty palm and pretends to blow something out of it into his face, waggles her fingers, and says, “You are home!”

That is what the last few days have felt like.

The ex-pats here keep trying to get me to stay longer...or permanently. They keep proposing options, both ridiculous and realistic. They have offered to pass me around as a live-in counselor and cook. They have suggested I teach at one of the local tech schools, and even offered to get me a tour. One particularly alcohol-soaked night, it was suggested I learn to distill vodka from potatoes on the internet, and then start Kigali's first distillery. I even have a backing offer.

I've only been here about twelve days, but strangely, I could see it. Of all the things I thought I could imagine when I not only left home for the first time, but of all places, went to Africa, I did not imagine liking it enough to be able to imagine myself living here.

And yet...I could see it. I could imagine taking in generation after generation of Peace Corps. volunteers who wanted a safe place to live with hot running water. I could imagine working here, living here, even driving here, which has to be one of the scariest endeavors available. Kigali, for all its problems, is beautiful. It's decently well-organized. It's relatively safe.

There are things I would miss: easily accessible and wide varieties of cheese, for one. Any hope of decent internet. Western healthcare. American television. Obviously I would need to find a way to get my perfume collection here in one piece.

But there are so many things here I can already see myself missing when I go back: fresh and plentiful fruit juices, glass after glass. The beautiful countryside with its lakes and mountains, which I am only just starting to explore. The art, the music, the dancing, the textiles. The flowers that grow everywhere, in more kinds than I have seen outside botanical gardens, all fragrant and bright. And I'll tell you this: I eat a helluva lot better in Africa than I ever do in the U.S.

I knew that coming here was going to be an adventure. And that was good. I needed a little adventure in my life. A smidgen of upheaval. Some mild shakubuku. 2014, the year of doing things I never imagined I'd do.  It seemed like a theme worth embracing.

I did not expect to come here, look around, and think, “Yes, I could live here. I could be okay with getting my own electricity and water. I could adjust to the less than reliable internet. I could be happy here. I could learn French, and even a some Ikinyarwanda. I could live this life.”

I realize a huge part of my feelings about this have to do with the relative safety of Kigali, my high amounts of contact with other Americans, and the general high quality of life I'm experiencing here. Nonetheless, I did not expect to find myself thinking, “Yes, I could like and even love living in Africa.”

I miss my friends back home, but I don't miss home itself in the way I expected. It's an interesting, discovering new things about myself.  It's nice to know that even well into my thirties, I am not done growing, changing, becoming who I am supposed to be.  Any reports of my death have been exaggerated, even in my own mind;  I am still, very much, alive.

And this feeling of fitting, of being bigger than I thought I was, more capable of embracing newness, chaos, change -- it's wonderful. It reminds me again how often we live our lives small, thinking we are only capable of navigating a thimble worth of experience, when inside we are vast oceans of being. At the end of the day, our boundaries are defined more often by our fear than by our own capacity.

I would like, very much, to be less afraid.

Today I am wearing Lavanila Laboratories Vanilla Grapefruit. Available at Sephora, Vanilla Grapefruit is described as follows:
An uplifting citrus, this addictive blend of juicy pink grapefruit, fresh lime, crisp cedarwood, and warm Madagascar vanilla is fresh and inviting. Kissed by sunshine, this unique scent lifts the spirits.

Each fragrance starts with a warm base of Madagascar vanilla and layers on a unique blend of pure essential oils for an exquisite expression of nature that captures a mood, a memory, or a moment in time. Hailed as the world’s first healthy fragrance, natural technology infuses organic sugar cane alcohol with skin-saving botanicals and antioxidants for a modern twist on the classic art of perfumery.

Notes: Pink Grapefruit, Lime, Bergamot, Orange, Cedarwood, Madagascar Vanilla.
Sephora describes Vanilla Grapefruit's style as “Exotic. Sensual. Addictive.” Maybe that's why I keep respraying it. On application, the grapefruit note is strong, but fades quickly into a mixture of grapefruit, vanilla, and lime that smells more like those chewable fruit candies than actual fruit to me. That isn't a knock, by the way. I love those things. I just wouldn't reach for this one looking for a realistic fruit scent.

After about an hour, a lot of that candied smell burns off and Vanilla Grapefruit settles into a scent that is more woody and powdery than foodie or floral. The bergamot is very faint on me, but I get a nice balance of cedar and a vanilla that reminds me of the big tins of puff powder with giant pink powder puffs I used to get as holiday gifts when I was a little girl. Those things only ever smelled like one of two things: roses or vanilla. (Honestly, it's a wonder I love both notes so much. I guess I figure I'm spicy enough on my own that adding a little sweet certainly can't hurt.)

Vanilla Grapefruit is decently long lasting. I can still smell it faintly over six hours along. In terms of sillage? Moderate. I wouldn't take a bath in it, but if you're a careful sprayer, you can wear it without giving anyone around you a toothache.

I'm sure all this sugar is going to make everyone who sniff this feel like Vanilla Grapefruit is the province of fifteen year old girls.  Well let me tell you, I am no teenager, and I get a lot of compliments on it, so don't right off it's light, fizzy fun as too youthful for you without trying it out first.

Vanilla Grapefruit is available from Sephora in a 75ml spray for $58. I feel like this is a pretty good price for what you're getting. As always, I recommend trying before you buy.

I could only find one other review from Musing of a Muse.  Too bad for you fumies out there.  Vanilla Grapefruit is a nice little scent and I will always remember it as part of my trip to Rwanda.

I have got so much to give.
I swear, I do.
I may not have nine lives,
but this one feels brand new.
Yes I've lived a good one.
I have tried to be true.
There are some things I never realized
'til I met you.
How the wind feels on my cheeks
When I'm barkin' at the moon!
There is no home like the one you've got
'cause that home belongs to you!

~ “Barking at the Moon,” Jenny Lewis

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic that you're enjoying your experience in Rwanda so much: it sounds heavenly.

cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh