I drove to the grocery store in my sports car… to buy eggs for breakfast. I just got back in town, and there are no eggs at home. There is nothing at home. I was out of the city the whole of last week to spend time with my family, and my niece. Most importantly my niece.
There’s nothing at my best friend’s house – that’s the place I’ve for the past few years, of all the 5 houses which have for the temporary seasons belonged to me, gotten to call home. A different story for a different and much brighter day. Today is not a bright day.
I walked into the grocery store, and I got eggs. I got sausages, and I got chicken hearts. I got custard, and I got milk – all the little things that make up the ins and outs of my day-to-day life.
I was listening to Hannah Montana’s “Wherever I go” and I nearly broke down in the grocery store.
I was walking around in one of my favorite pairs of 120s, a pair of skinny jeans I just bought, and my favorite blue scarf. There’s a Pierre Cardin watch on my wrist – a gift from the most precious human to me. All the little details that have made up my life in Malawi’s biggest city – a lovely city we get to call Lilongwe.
I got to the counter, and pulled out my black card. I didn’t care for what the bill was; and it just hit me in that moment, that I was privileged enough to create my dream life in this city. The moment took me back to a time like this, five years ago, when one of my closest friends, Bernadette, had to take me grocery shopping. She paid for everything, because I could not afford much at the moment.
5 years ago, in early January of 2017, I moved to Lilongwe. I had just completed my undergraduate studies, and I told my parents I was moving to a city 220kms away. My parents, as always, were supportive, and liberating.
My parents – the best parents a girl can ask for, drove me to Lilongwe, and dropped me off in my small and shared apartment. They bought me a 3/4 bed, 4 plastic chairs, and a wooden table. They bought me a two-plate stove, and my mother gave me 3 pots from one of her sets to start my new life.
My mother later sent me some money to buy a refrigerator; and brick by brick, I built a life I’ve for a while now been happy to call my own.
We recently relocated my NGO’s office, and it just hit me how expansive my ‘little’ life has become. There’s so much weight, both physically and figuratively, to carry around. I had so many dreams, and in many ways, life’s awarded me the chance to live them. On most days, I get to think how I have lived the true ‘Lilongwe dream’.
From living in Area 47, to living in some of the most elite neighborhoods. From driving my dad’s hand-me-down old BMW (which would break down at every chance) to driving my own (and stellar, might I add) sports car. From living in a shared 2-bedroom apartment, to living in some of the biggest houses in the city. From worrying about where I will get money for my next water bill, to eating out nearly every day and never caring about the cost.
All the little things that make Lilongwe living – from dating my first love, to dating an expat. From working for a startup, to running my own NGO and Digital Solutions company, and now being an expat myself. From being called an academic on one day, to being (condescendingly) called a socialite on the next day. From being absolutely broke in one moment, to absolutely balling in the next. These have all been many parts of my lived experience. I am grateful for each of them.
I wrote my first book in this city. I had my first job in this city. I found true love in this city. I found healing in this city. I established my companies in this city. I made friends for a lifetime in this city.
My Ntha Foundation team surprised me with cake as a way to say farewell today, and it brought me to tears. I am reminded I have lived, and I have lived well in this city.
I am sitting at one of my favorite restaurants, writing this, for mostly me, and maybe you, too. I have cried several times today, and I know I will cry several more times in the days ahead.
As I move to the biggest city in world (I will share very soon, allow me to process and share as slowly as I need to); I am deeply grateful for all the love you’ve given me, and all the chances and second chances life has awarded me. I’m deeply grateful for you, and any way you have supported me along this journey. You’ve been a part of me, and I’ll be holding you in my heart wherever I go.