(“We’ve got it together!”)
There are days when I’m in my groove; I’m speaking the language, I know how to do the handshake, I successfully navigate the market. And then, there are days when I feel painfully awkward.
Take yesterday, for example. Peter and I walked the village road to the local church. I wore one of my new outfits made by my favorite local seamstress. She used old measurements, which meant the skirt was slightly baggy. (Good enough to wear, but the nagging feeling my skirt was falling down never left my mind.) I didn’t have time to drink my coffee before leaving the house, so in a true American fashion, I poured it into my travel mug and hit the road on foot. Baby on front (not “African”!), travel mug in hand (also not “African”!), and huge bag filled to the brim with snacks, diapers, water bottle and reading material on shoulder (again, not “African”!).
We arrived a little late, which was partly strategic because the services are quite long for bébé! As an expression of honor, the greeter sat us front row center. We sang a few upbeat songs, listened to the fantastic choir, and after about 15 minutes, I’d opened all of the snacks I carried with me. Peter downed a handful of crackers and a package of breakfast cookies. He played with my Bible and a pen for a few minutes, but he soon began to screech and cry. Quelle horreur. I quickly took him outside, which meant walking past the entire congregation — hoping they wouldn’t us. Oh rats, I left my travel mug under the seat. Along with some of the contents of my bag and the baby carrier. I handed Peter to my friend, Essi, and “snuck” in front of the congregation to retrieve my items. As quietly as possible, I clumsily gathered the items in my arm and made certain to pinch my skirt in place.
The rest of the service involved me bouncing Peter around and trying to keep him as calm as the local babies who played contentedly on their mothers’ laps. The entire time he reached for the women around me, as if to say to me “You don’t know what you’re doing, woman!”. At one point, I threw the nursing cover over him (not “African!”) and attempted to feed him. Unlike the matching skirt, my outfit top was too snug for a discreet feeding session. Peter grew tired of me fumbling with it and fussed and kicked his way out from the cover.
We eventually said our au revoirs and slowly made our way down the village road home. I sighed when we got through the door, set bébé down for a nap, and resolved to get my skirt taken in and try village church again another day.