Rarely have I felt more joy in my heart than yesterday when I went to an Ethiopian wedding reception, and rarely have I felt more distraught than I did afterwards when I was alone.
While amongst the celebrants, I felt whole in a way that went against all reason. It seemed as if I were truly home for the first time in my life. Every hand I shook seemed to pull me closer to where I should always have been. Every embrace seemed to welcome me back. Every pair of eyes I looked into seemed to ask me where I had been all these years. And yet, none of those I met there could possibly have wanted to express any such sentiments.
You see, I am an old, white guy. Everything about my appearance suggests that I have nothing in common with that group of people. To top it off, I am not exactly handsome. Compared to their striking beauty, I look actually downright hideous. So what made me feel the way I did?
I do not believe in reincarnation. What I sensed, therefore, cannot have been some memory of home, some feeling of belonging that had somehow stuck with my soul across the ages and past physical dissolution. And yet, when I sat amongst these Ethiopians, among these wonderful, wonderful strangers whom, for the most part, I had never seen even from a distance, I felt peaceful like a baby in its mother's arms. And as I walked home throught the night afterwards, I felt abandoned.
Why do I love those people so much? Why do I want them around me so desperately? Why are they so beautiful to me in every way?
There is only one way I can explain this. I must have immersed myself too deeply into the time period of my novel. I must have over-saturated my mind with the lore of Makeda's ancient people, whose descendants the Ethiopians are, and now I am living more in their world than I live in the here and now. What other answer could there be?
As I sit here in front of my computer, I find myself reluctant to continue writing my novel for fear of severing the last few strands that still connect me to my real life. At the same time, though, I want to continue working on it forever, sensing that I will lose this sweet, new-found home the moment I move on to the next project.
As I went home last night, I could not shake the feeling that there had been some horrible mixup and that I had been handed the wrong life to live. Not that I did not receive countless blessings in the one I ended up with, but somehow I was certain that it all was supposed to have happened somewhere else. It weighed heavily on my heart that there was no way to ever rectify this.
I had been sweating in the best suit I put on for the occasion, and as I walked through the quiet streets a cool breeze brought some comfort to my body, but not to my soul. I knew of course that the cold air had come off the Hudson and not the Blue Nile, but that wasn't quite enough to root me firmly again in my current New York life. And for now, that is okay with me. The novel will be better because of it. I just pray that when it is all done and my day job and the other demands of my current existence have drawn me back into the present, I will not lose this inexplicable love. It is so very precious to me.