Yesterday, I made the a little over an hour journey by tro-tro from Atomic Down, my new home, to Adenta Down, my old home. The trip was relatively easy, as I only had to transfer once. When I got off the tro-tro, I was a little thrown off as the last stop was not the last stop I had grown accustomed to taking to get home last time. The driver had dropped me at a small shopping center, I recognized as the place I used to go for Internet. Luckily another man had gotten off at the last stop too, and he knew what location I was talking about and pointed me in the right direction. Immediately it all came back to me. The tro-tro stop may have changed, but the neighborhood had not. All the old food stands were all there, the other Internet café, and when I rounded the corner from the food stands, there stood my neighbor’s shed that doubled as her grocery store in all it’s glory. I felt transported to two years ago as I approached her store, and when she noticed me she ran to give me a hug exclaiming that it had been such a long time. It really had been. I sat inside just like old times and she went to get her son, Evans, to let him know I was there. It was so good to see Evans, and I gave him a big hug, and asked him to tell me all about the last two years of his life. I, who hated when people told me to do that, could not quite think of any other way to phrase my question to him in the joy of the moment.
This was my old neighborhood returned to me. I had lived next door to Ma, my neighbor’s, store. She and her son Evans, now 20, had me over for dinner every night. Then there was Evans’ friend Emma, now 18, who was the neighborhood goof ball and always put a smile on my face. Evans and Emma are like my two younger and close brothers. I think they’d get along quite well with my real-life younger brother. And there was Qwasi and Eramuh who were two kids who lived across the street who liked to ask me to bring them terribly expensive things from America when I returned. (I did not do so, and am awaiting their disappointment, as I did not see them on this visit.) Then there was Malda, a girl I had in class, and her family—her mom, brother, and little sister, who also lived across the street who came by often. And last, there was Kwame who works across the street. Emma apparently had been teasing him mercilessly about his apparent crush on me, and how he had bought me a ring after I unwittingly joked that we were engaged. Note to self: such jokes are only funny in certain contexts that are apparently not here in Ghana. It will take some work, then, to make Kwame not so shy around me this time around.
They were all there. And they were all happy to see me, and I them. For me, it was the kind of joy in a reunion that one has when they encounter people who were witnesses to a life-altering summer, and the friends who held my hand through it. I’ve known these people less time than some of the people I know back home, and yet they have already gone lengths for me, I am unsure if others would go through. Even yesterday, Emma took me back home so I would not get lost in the dark. And although we were a bit off the right track for awhile and it took us a very long time to get home, he always kept the spirits up and never complained despite the multiple waits and tro-tros. Even though he still had a journey back to make once he dropped me off at my front door.
Perhaps the most fitting thing I noticed about the neighborhood was that the only thing that had changed was that the old office and my apartment complex had been redone—repainted and renovated. I had changed over the last two years and the office had been reorganized and relocated, and the old area reflected those facts.
Evans, Emma, and I passed a lovely afternoon catching up, eating fried plantains, watching dubbed Spanish soap operas, and introducing me to the most up-to-date Ghanaian music and dances. I’m hoping to get to Housing Down once a week after I start work. I have not started work yet, as George thinks I should still be resting, so instead I’ve just been researching and preparing a presentation to present my ideas for how the project should progress. I’m still eager to start work, but happy to have this time to relax, adjust, and visit the old neighborhood.
I’m including old photos of the neighborhood, since it has not changed, and I need to buy a new connecting chord for my camera.