When Fran came to America, I had arranged for my parents, my boyfriend and my little brother to be at the airport at LEAST 30 minutes prior, welcoming her with open arms and American goodies. We were beyond excited and had the most beautiful reunion.
Since the great divorce I'd been dreaming about the joyous moment when my feet would once again touch African soil. How excited I would be to run into the arms of my best friend, skip to her little red car with a broken window and overwhelming odors of gasoline and drive off to our sweet abode in Century City.
My excitement to see her sent me into warrior mode, knocking down people with my massive bags that held half of Target in them. I unashamedly used my arm as an excuse to go through the Immigrations line for people with disabilities, not because I couldn't stand in the normal queue, but because I needed to see my best friend immediately.
The Customs department at CPT literally consists of ten spaces where people have to put their suitcases and open them up. If all ten spaces are taken, their customs is monitored by an honors system that isn't enforced in the slightest. I did a quick look around, saw no one paying attention, and just walked through the doors to where I would fall sobbing into the arms of my other half.
Or so I thought.
I looked to the left. I looked to the right. I did a 360 of the room. She wasn't there. I'd just flown for 30 hours and had previously endured six months of absolute hell without her, and she wasn't even there to welcome me. Moments like this just prove to me that you can't judge someone by what they put on social media... she'd been "counting down days" and was "so excited to see me" yet where was my welcome? Where was my "best friend"? At home, reading, because she didn't want to have to wait for me at the airport. Her words, not mine.
Thankfully, I've been taught by Hillsong to "not take offense" and am still working on letting that go. Clearly. In addition my personal responsibility to let this go, knowing that there are people who love and missed me even when my bestie clearly didn't has helped this process tremendously.
So, here we are with the list of the most excited people to see me in SA:
1. Our security guards: My homecoming meant two things for the security guards of our complex: cupcake bribes to let us have more people in our flat than usually allowed and some entertainment for them as I workout in the gym. Yeah, it's kind of creepy, but they keep us safe from being robbed.
2. Juliette Bush: My favorite African American (actually) and one of my favorite American Africans (aka, american transplants like me who live in Africa). At my welcome home party Juliette didn't just hug me. She jumped me. Like wrapped herself around me and just jumped. Now I know what blender bottles feel like when they're being shaken.
3. Wendy Grages: The mastermind and director behind the Hillsong Internship. I think part of her was excited, but part was also terrified. Mostly because she literally screamed in one tone for like 30 seconds straight while hugging me, so I couldn't see her facial expressions. See, I'm the intern poster child. The internship at Hillsong college consists of Bible college, leadership training and practical ministry to help form you into a humble and godly leader. I was the opposite of that when I started the internship. I was that American chick who decided she was going to save Africa and the church could thank me later. Over the course of the year, I very quickly realized that is not the case, nor will it ever be, and made huge direction and character changes. Wendy and I have had conversations about the fact that I am living, breathing proof the internship works but I think she was slightly terrified and wondering if I'd come back with that attitude again.
4. My kids: DUH. My kids at Tembaletu cried and screamed, and clapped and hugged all over me. There's nothing better than being covered in snot and drool because someone is so happy to have you home. Gross, but hey. Whatever. Real love is kind of nasty sometimes.
Needless to say I was beyond stoked to see all of them as well, plus all of my other beautiful family and friends here who had a slightly more amped welcoming than Fran but a little bit less vocal than these four. SA is and will always be home. Good luck getting me to leave again.