Saturday, June 27, 2015

Vacation Interrupted - A Writers at Work Assignment

Once a month, I attend Writers at Work (W@W). W@W is a place for writers, both published and unpublished, to write, learn, critique, and just have plain fun with one another. It is really a great group of people, led by an amazingly talented woman, and I feel blessed to be a part of it. For the first time since I moved to da 'burgh ten years ago, I have found my people or as we in W@W say, my tribe. Each month, we meet at a local library and we're given an assignment to work on until the following month. While I generally am not fond of the assignments, they really make one write outside of the box.

A couple of months ago, the library asked if we would have an evening of readings for patrons and their children. It was held on Thursday evening and we each read something we wrote as part of a W@W assignment. Since most of the work I've done for the group contains a lot of cuss words, I really had to comb through my files to find one that would be appropriate for children. For the July 2012 assignment, I wrote a story titled Vacation Interrupted. The story had the following requirements: 

"The assignment for next time is to write a story, poem or article including the following:

animal:  meerkat
clothing:  T-shirt
activity:  walking
weather:  balmy weather
location:  Kenya, Africa
situation:  an interrupted vacation

750 word limit"

So here is what I wrote:

Walking along the moonlit path between quaint cottages, I am overcome with a deep sense of gratitude. On all sides surrounding me are the most unique and colorful flowers, and various trees in more shades of green than I knew existed. Through deep reds, brilliant blues, bright yellows, and majestic purples, I meander speechlessly. Grand thoughts (too much to bear) flow through my soul and  I breathe in the balmy Kenyan air with a peaceful sigh. It is here at the Sopa Lodge I return to every year. It is only here that I can refresh from my chaotic life. Being here … completes me.

To be in this land that is still just as God created it is to bring me closer to Him. My heart stays behind each year when I leave, but while I am here, I am renewed as I spend my days in the safari wilds and spend my evenings as I am now, in quiet, joyful solitude.

"Well, hello there, pretty lady," a southern, United States voice frightens me out of my reverie. I turn to see a man wearing a stained T-shirt displaying a picture of a meerkat on it. It reads "Meerkat Manor" in giant letters.

Trying not to encourage him, I merely nod and continue along my way, but it is not to be.

"Where you from, Miss?" He has now turned and is following in my direction.

Quite irritated, I reply, "Noh Ahn-gles." My hope is that he would assume I was not an American and that he would leave me alone.

To my great relief, he tipped his head and replied, "Well, good evenin' then," and turned around to head back to wherever he came from.

Though I was alone again, the annoying southerner has somehow managed to ruin my peace of mind. No longer feeling the calm of a few moments before, I decide to head back to my cozy cottage for a glass of red wine before calling it a night.

The next morning, as is customary at the Sopa, I am taken to my assigned table for breakfast. I wait patiently for a server to take my drink order before getting up to partake of the delectable breakfast buffet. As I wait, I smile and reminisce of my first morning here when I had woken up early in desperate need of coffee. There was none to be found, not in my room, not in the lobby. I showered and got ready quickly, my body rebelling over doing these things without caffeine to jolt it awake. Having settled in the dining room, I was ready to jump out of my skin waiting for that first cup that took 20 minutes to get to me. In Africa, they are in no hurry. They live a leisurely life and have no concern for the caffeine addictions of Americans.

Still smiling, excited for a full day of safari, I stand as the waiter approaches, readying myself for the buffet line. "Jambo! May I please have a pot of chai?" I ask my waiter.

"Well, ain't this somethin’?" the Southern drawl asks. "No habla unglase, hu?" I turn to see the southerner, who has been sat at the table next to mine. Not only do I feel embarrassed to have been caught in a lie, but it is clear to me that this will be a vacation interrupted time and time again.

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