America

America 7: 1000 Words for Tracy

This is the last article in my ‘America’ series. I haven’t written in over a month. I was trying to find words to describe a very special person that I met in the US. Of course there are a million words, but I’ve selected only a thousand of them.

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Sometimes, we meet some great people in life. And then sometimes, we meet some exceptional people. And then some times – very few times – we meet angels.

She was standing behind a glass wall a few floors above me. I looked back, and up, as I went past the security check point. She was looking down at me, waving ever slowly. I waved back, turned away and tried to hold back my emotions. Many memories flashed through my mind…

It wasn’t just the recent one, where she effectively held up the whole airport hierarchy just to try to let them allow me a free bag on the plane. It wasn’t just the one where I stayed at her home after graduation and it felt like my home. It wasn’t just her presence at my graduation. It all went way, way back…

When I left Zimbabwe for the US, a wise man gave me a few words. He told me, “Don’t worry too much. You know, over there in the US, you will find another family like this one – a mother, a father, brothers, sisters, and cousins. You’ll find even a grandfather like me!” I tried to visualize what my grandfather said, but I couldn’t fathom what he meant. And when I began living his words, I was oblivious of the whole plot playing out right before my eyes…

The blond-haired, middle-aged lady stepped out of a station wagon and skipped up to me. I was on school break and had no place to go because all the dorms were closed. Some friends from church had told her about my situation and she had offered to help. She wasted no time in getting me into her car and we were on our way to her home. I was nervous. She talked mostly about Little Kitty, her cat.

Feeding Little Kitty turned out to be easy – even when the lady, Tracy, left with her husband, Dan, to go on vacation for ten days. I could not believe she would entrust me with her house just three days after meeting me for the first time. Of course I did not mind – I had a full fridge, Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider and time to recover from Stanford. I lived like a king in this…..house.

I returned to school for my second quarter. Tracy and Dan left the state in the third. I was gutted. Their welcome had been incredible, and they’d told me their home was always open for me. Now that home would be more than a thousand miles away. I suddenly felt the vacuum. Withdrawal symptoms all over again. Nostalgia again. Stanford revulsion again…

But then, as I said, “…sometimes – very few times – we meet angels…”

Some months later, I was celebrating Christmas with Tracy and Dan in Texas. I was un-wrapping my own Christmas gifts too. In a few days, I was driving to Tennessee with Tracy, where I met her parents – great people they turned out to be. Tracy’s dad nearly convinced me to sign up for “The Price is Right.” And her mom loved goodwill stores as much as I did. Or, perhaps, they were trying by all means to make me feel… at home. Either way, I had a great time, and grew very fond of them.

I traveled to Texas, to Florida, and to Massachusetts thanks to Tracy, and Dan. I explored the US beyond Stanford through them. And I can try to recount everything else that I got… clothes, phone plans, a special watch, prescription eyeglasses, school stationery, Christmas gifts, debt clearances, plane tickets, useful gadgets, restaurant meals, car rides, travel bags, watching the Boston Red Sox – I can try to recall all, but that would reduce everything to mere things. That would miss some special moments…

When I was feeling down and lonely at school, sitting behind my desk in my dorm room and staring into space. Picking up the phone and calling Tracy, and feeling rejuvenated to the point of finding the strength to go on again…Or when I tried on my new suit in preparation for a job interview, with Tracy and Dan cheering me on like I could land any job in the world. Or when they both pranked me by pretending to take me to a dentist on our way to a special dinner…

Or when they came for my graduation. And, while I received a lot of pity because my parents could not attend, I felt a lot of joy because they came. They weren’t rich by any means, but they made every effort to fly down and watch me graduate. An emotional experience it was for me – getting my degree thousands of miles from home, and seeing Tracy and Dan again in California. Memories, nostalgia, tears…

We celebrated in California, then at home in Texas, then on vacation in Massachusetts… And then I was back home in Texas. I was home. Applying for jobs, learning to drive, watching sports every weekend, making friends, helping out in the yard, going to the grocery, enjoying home-cooked meals with family…

And then suddenly I was walking through security to catch my flight back to Zimbabwe. I refused to cry as I waved back at Tracy, standing there behind the glass wall. Deep in my heart I felt that this couldn’t be the last time I would see her. It couldn’t be. It just couldn’t be. It can’t be…

My mom couldn’t believe everything Tracy did. Every time that she tried to grasp it all, she failed. Every time she tried to talk about it, she ran out of words after a sentence. I guess it’s the kind of thing only a mother feels in her heart.

But one man did find the words. He had said it before.

“You told me the truth, Khulu! You won’t believe it! I found family in the US!”

And family found me. It skipped into my life through an angel called Tracy.

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14 thoughts on “America 7: 1000 Words for Tracy

  1. you have good and nice memories about your experience in the States, hope one day you will have a chance visit Tracy and others soon…

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  2. I was ril touched, sch ppl ril do exist ! Tracy is rily an angel coz wat sh did…sh went far beyond human imagination. She is alred blessed, May God bless her and her family more and more

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  3. very touching that someone can go out of their way to make you feel loved.Especially where she tries to make them allow you a free bag.Its simply beautiful. She really is one in a million …..an angel!!

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    • Yes, I just stood there in awe as she continue to talk to them. She always made my problems her own and tried by all means to solve them. Incredible, incredible person!

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