A few months ago, a call for pages on the CK blog caught my eye: calling for pages on "life changes." An internal debate raged, finally the weekend before it was due, I got up the courage to look through a box of photos marked for "throw away" and made a layout.
I don't do a lot of this "type" of scrapbooking. Primarily, it requires photos that I usually don't have, and I have yet to do a photo-less layout. Also I prefer to journal about present day facts, humorous anecdotes, witty thoughts... but this is documenting a part of my life journey, and the part that hasn't been without tremendous pain...
Twenty years removed from leaving Africa, I have a little more perspective on this topic. While I was scared to death leaving my parents, I now can see how they were probably scared to death ^ nth degree, but they had to hold it together and not let on that fact. Mountains had to be moved to get me that U.S. visa, and once it was secured, I remember the little things they did to prepare for my leaving: cooking lessons, a gold necklace with a cow pendant ... They both cried at the airport and my dad could barely hug me. See this is why we don't write or scrapbook about these things, how does one hold back the emotions and tears ...
Now that I'm a parent, it's not that difficult to imagine my children going off to college, even to a "foreign" country. However things would be vastly different. Where I talked to my parents on the phone twice in the four years I attended college, I imagine I would get daily if not instantaneous updates from my kids. Where my parents had no money to travel to visit me, I might anonymously move to the city where my kids would be. Where my parents wouldn't qualify for a visa to enter the U.S., there is no limit to where I can go as a U.S. citizen.
To be sure, I was not completely alone or lonely. No time in my life has God been more present than those four years. In my desperate need, He showed up so mightily, so tenderly and so concretely in the form of my host family. That's another story and another scrapbook page, if I can hold the emotions in check. ;)
So here is this layout. And by the way, my story does have a happy "ending," even if it is my parents living in my house six months every year! :)
"At the age of 17, I left my parents in Dakar, Senegal to come to Minnesota, U.S.A. for college.That was life-changing in so many ways, of which I only realized a fraction at the time.The future was completely uncertain, and in the end, I wouldn't see my parents for four years. I would only talk to them on the phone twice in those four years. At 17, my English was completely fluent, but my understanding of the American culture was in its infancy. I would go on studying and working for four years, with all of my strength, mind, and heart.Motivated by the thoughts of parents who sold all of their furniture and borrowed all they could to give me this opportunity. I would not fail them.I came to the U.S. at 17 to make a life for myself and to deliver on a whisper of hope. It was the biggest life change in my life so far, nothing else could compare, not even motherhood. "
As seen in the March/April 2011 issue of CreatingKeepsakes magazine. Copyright Creative Crafts Group. Posted with prior permission from the publisher.