Sunlight filters down through shades of green; pine, birch, maple, fern. I’m sitting on the couch looking out the window, next to my friend Mary, who’s feeding her baby. Round us the children swirl, demanding trips to the park, to the woods, picnics and lake visits. We’ve spent the last week traveling, last-minute visits to family and friends. We saw my brother, took my mother on picnics and to the mall to people-watch, stayed up late night after night just chatting and catching up.

We leave this country soon. It’s been very strange, returning for a year and knowing it was temporary, to this place that in spite of our travels we still call “home”. We tried not to settle in, not to put down roots, but to a certain extent it was unavoidable. And so this feels a bit of a wrench, this move. Everyone feels a variety of conflicting emotions–excitement, concern, apprehension, sadness, joy.

We live out of suitcases, knowing for certain where nothing is, only that it’s there in one of those cases. We say goodbye to forests and trees and houses and people. Right now, we’re visiting friends in Bellingham, meeting their new baby and getting reacquainted with their child. Earlier we stayed with a family of 3 kids living far out in the country, a peaceful place guarded by tall firs, passing boats on Puget Sound still audible although not visible.

I love visiting families. One boy showed us his room. “It’s not as clean as it should be,” he informed us. The twins love babies; at one house, Abel puts the baby in her little swing and reads to her earnestly in French. Elliot carries a 5-year-old across the little stream in the woods behind the house.

We’ve been without internet all week, until today. Tomorrow we head back down to Portland, stop by to see my mother one last time, before we fly across the world.

If you had one week left in America before you moved back to Africa, what would you do?

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