Jesslyn Mitchell | Gulu, Uganda | Post 4
Blog Number The Last: In Love In Uganda
I knew my life would change, but I never quite knew how. This is my last blog post, but I still have at least 2 more months here. So now it’s time for nostalgia. All of the nostalgia. I remember the conversations I had during the semester before I left.
“Sam, I am scared. Like, really scared.I don’t want to leave you guys. I have seriously been thinking about just staying,” I told him.
“Why are you scared? You just want us to tell you not to leave. Of course we are going to miss you, but you need to go,” said Sam.
Nataly added, “Baby, you are doing something incredible. You are doing something that your friends who are staying behind don’t get to. You are so brave and this is going to be the best time of your life.”
I couldn’t believe that. I responded, “The best time of my life? How am I going to have fun in a country that has been experiencing war for the last 25 years? I am going there to learn about genocide and death. This is not going to be fun, but you’re right, I need to go.”
This is why you need friends. They are just almost always right. Except when they are wrong, but that’s why you are your friends’ friend. They were right. They were. They don’t even know how right they were. I have never in my life been more of a person than I am now. I wish I could explain what I mean, but I can’t. Now I understand why they call it an “Acid Trip.” Being on my literal trip to Uganda, I have realized that everyday, everything is new, everything is exciting. Not just here because it is a new culture, but because everywhere there are infinite possibilities for existence. But there is always the human constant. You do not need drugs to realize how beautiful sitting under a tree and staring up at the leaves can be. Because if you are with the right people, everything is always right.
Let me tell you, during this trip I have not always been with the right people. But even when the wrong people are present, I have made sure that the right people are present. I have dated a kid who works six jobs including music promotion, an orphanage, documentary work, and song writing, not to make ends meet, but for pure passion. I have dated an entrepreneur, the owner of a bar, a dj, a radio talk show host, and a student. But most importantly, I have dated myself. I read somewhere once, “fall in love and fall in love often.” You learn more about yourself in relating to new people than in almost any other way. Maybe I am taking that too seriously, but what are you supposed to do when you have met the most amazing people in the world?
I am in love. I am in love with this boy, and that boy, and those kids, and that woman, and that girl from Oklahoma who has been right by my side and I am in love with myself. I am not in love with myself because I am awesome (which I am), but I am in love with myself because I am a person. And I am in love with you because you are a person. I am in love with Uganda.
Please, don’t make me leave. Please? I don’t want to. I am not ready. I want to stay, forever and forever and forever. I looked at my class schedule next semester. Rocky Hall 210. I don’t want to be there. That’s where the Jess from before would be. How can this Jess, the now Jess, go back to that place? What if I go back to that Jess? But I know I won’t, because I won’t be going back to that same Nataly, to that same Menen, to that same Sam, or Lorena, or Kiran. I won’t go back to that same Uncle Mark, that same Aunt Renee, or mommy, or daddy, because no matter where you are, you are never the same because you are a person. People are resilient, Uganda has taught me that, but people change. People grow every day. Even when I leave, I will continue growing every day. I am in love in Uganda. I am in love with life in Uganda. I am in love with Uganda.