I felt odd as I walked through the terminal at OR Tambo.
I am one of those lucky few that never have to travel alone. However, unlike a lot of Kenyans, I chose to use Ethiopian Airways this time around therefore arriving with fellow Ethiopian ALAians. With my friends, I walked over to a gentleman with a sign saying “African Leadership Academy” in his hand who said he was there to drive us to school. On our way to school, we swapped tales about the break, laughing about our different experiences. It was a bittersweet moment, laughing at the fact that my luggage had somehow been misplaced by the airline.
One hour and thirty minutes.
That’s the amount of time it takes to manoeuvre through South African highways to the small town of Honeydew…where ALA is located. I walked out of the car to the realization that some of the people I had shared wonderful memories with in the previous academic year 2012-2013 had moved on. However, I also walked into my senior year at ALA. So much promise lay in the year ahead. It hit me that soon, I was going to have to decide on whether to take a gap year or apply to college. The joy of being back again was in the air. I walked in to a multitude of hugs and ‘how was home’ questions?
In that moment, the amount of squeals, hugs and laughter reminded me why I missed ALA so much. I was beyond happy, but there was still something missing.
Two days later, a new class walked in…the class of 2013. They arrived at weird times of the day, rolling heavy luggage that Residental Assistants (RAs) and Peer Counsellors (PCs) helped carry. They were the second half of our Rothko. Rothko is a painter noted for his use of two colors in rectangular panels, with a middle section where the colors blend seamlessly into one another. Every year, a new Rothko is created at ALA, the returning class and the incoming class. And yet, it is always just as difficult to let someone go as it is to have someone else in their place. As a second year, I stroll into this year eager to paint a new Rothko, and always keep the previous one in the back of my mind. So here’s to a new year filled with laughter and memories.
Oh and I got my luggage back. A week after I came. I survived a week without my stuff. Life in the wild, here I come.