In less than two months, I will be traveling back to Kenya for a two-year stay having been away for four years. To say that I am terrified is an understatement. I am scared that having lived in the Midwest for the past four years, my street smarts have gone down the drain, personal space has become my new normal, and I don’t hold onto my purse as tightly – or watch my surroundings for hawks waiting for the pristine moment to swoop down and snatch my phone, only to disappear into the masses – as I should.
I’m excited about the hustle and bustle of the Nairobi area, especially Kahawa Wendani. My first ever home since leaving my village more than 10 years ago. Kahawa Wendani, a place that I have come to know like the back of my hands. Kahawa Wendani, a place that brims with youthful energy of Kenyatta university students that flows from the campus, brims at Kahawa Wendani, before spilling into Gthurai 45. I get excited by the memory of the two streets hugging Jostem. The delicious aroma of street chicken, mutura, and roasted corn, coupled with the competing sounds of matatu horns and bootleg video and music stores.
Then, there is Githurai 45. Beautiful, beloved, stinky, crowded, unsafe but safe, Githurai 45. I lived there for a year and it was the most interesting year of my life that taught me never to say never. The town that never sleeps. From being awoken at 3AM by the sound of buses honking and touts yelling at the top of their voices, competing for passengers, to being awoken at 12AM by drunks singing unabashedly as they staggered home after drinking one too many moonshines. Like I said, the most interesting year of my life.
On the other hand, I’m terrified that I have become too soft. Too foreign. Too analytical. Too stuck up, maybe? I know home always being home, will welcome me with open arms – personal space? What’s that?