Our paper mache chicken head is en route to New Orleans, and so are we.
It's been hard to figure out how to explain in this awkwardly public space that we are leaving Haiti, and months have gone by since we decided it was "time."
I haven't known what to write here ever since, and though we don't technically owe anyone an explanation, I have tried to sit down and type it out so many times that it feels forced and silly. I've begun more than ten drafts of this post, in various ways justifying and defending our decision, trumpeting my love for this place, declaring how devastated I am to leave, how terrified I am to move to a country whose citizenship I hold and not much else (imagine a regression to 18-year old me moving to the US for the first time... it's not that pretty).
Delete, delete, delete.
Haiti is our home, and it's heartbreaking to move. We've had amazing adventures, life-altering experiences and made precious friends here. Life in Haiti puts a lot of things into perspective. We've had a lot of traumatic shit go down and Port-au-Prince is not exactly one of the top ten most liveable cities in the world (quite the opposite, in fact). I feel guilty leaving. I'm also scared, because I know how how things work in Haiti, but in the US I feel like an outsider. That's exactly how Ben feels here.
We'll miss eating ripe juice-dripping mangoes, speaking Creole, our avocado tree, our friends and neighbors, motorcycle taxis, hiking in the mountains... We'll miss Haiti's chaos, artistry and intense spirituality, but not the speakers blaring konpa at night on the corner and definitely not the politics.
We're moving to a place where you call strangers 'baby' when you smile and greet them on the street. New Orleans has spiritual, artistic and historical connections to Haiti and politics that may be almost as complicated. Ben has already purchased a new (and better, apparently) motorcycle in the US. The sun shines there, too. There will be sidewalks and bicycle lanes and I can get my sewing machine out of storage.
As a dear and level-headed friend reminded me on skype recently:
[4/5/13 3:58:16 PM] You will find good people in NOLA
[4/5/13 3:58:22 PM] and you will stay connected to Haiti
[4/5/13 3:58:28 PM] and you will have days you cry a lot
[4/5/13 3:58:39 PM] and you will have days you laugh a lot
[4/5/13 3:58:41 PM] and you will have even more days you both cry and laugh
I am already laughing and crying most days. Keep an eye out for a blan sobbing over a pile of mangos in the market one minute, and laughing crazily as she almost gets hit by a tap tap the next.