The humid air snuck through the thin cotton of my over-washed shirt and clung to my skin like a scared child. In the distance, thunderless lightning sparked like a dying flashlight in a dark room and I pulled out my sweater, unused in the last seven months, and wrapped it against the early morning chill.

This was my arrival in reverse. Cloaked in darkness, air rushing past open windows, the stench of rubber saturating the air, and anticipation…the persistent whisper, in every new thing, that something amazing was just ahead of me.

Only, disappointment followed me too. My lost nalgene bottle on the floor of the airport shuttle, the delayed flight due to ash so many miles away. And it is the incessant waiting that is brutal. The slow motion departure of sorts that leaves me still in Liberia at 5am with no hint of a goodbye.

And I’m still too close to make sense of it all. Still too close to see the forest for the trees. Right now I’m staring at trees so hard my eyelids have splinters. And so I sit in this terminal, the din of televisions destroying the early morning quiet, waiting for ash to settle, wind to blow, flights to land, so that my wooden myopia can gain some perspective.

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