A Letter from a friend: “My First Love.”

         I thought i’d share a wonderful letter a friend sent me a few years back on her “first love” i.e Addis Ababa, and her more recent love – Washington, DC. Enjoy.

        “I don’t need to tell you that it’s not what you’re thinking; obviously. The first love I’m talking about is Addis, my beloved city. I was coming back from work today and in the train, I finished reading Dinaw’s “The beautiful things that heaven bears”. I can’t even begin to describe the emotions that book evoked in me. But more about that later. I was in the train and looking out of the metro windows, lost in my own world of nostalgia, sadness and just pure wonder at the ability of someone to express himself so well. Then suddenly it hit me that the moment perfectly coincided with my melancholic mood because it was twilight; and twilight used to be my favorite part of the day in Addis. You know that time of the day, the sun is just setting, smell of ‘tikus yekeseat dabo’ in the air, distant voices of weyalas screaming their head off and that oh so beautiful breeze that is unique to Addis. At a moments like this, I just bow my head and thank God for being alive.

 And today, today it was one of those days … the whole outside world resembled Addis and I said to myself, maybe DC will be my second love. For its easy to fall in love with it … the bustle, diversity, convenience, … life of it all. Like Addis there are things that break your heart. Take, for example, this African American guy who, when a friend was passing him by says hello to her and she, like we’re used to doing in Addis, ignores him and walks on, and he replies … “yeah you’re right, this is nobody.” Or when you see the general discrepancy amongst people of the city, immigrants vs natives, blacks vs whites, etc. And just like Addis, it has its slums and its version of ‘bole’. I could think of a thousand reasons to love it, from its coffee shops, to the malls to the clubs, little things that creep up on you until you wake up one day, and realize you have yet again fallen in love with another one. But Addis? Too many memories etched inside my head for me to ever let go. If you asked me what of the city I missed most now, it would definitely be … how do i describe it … ok let me try. You know that time of the morning around 5ish (kelelitu 11 seat) and everyone is sleeping, dawn is breaking, and for some reason or another tibanignalesh? You know you don’t need to get up but you can’t fall asleep right away either. So you snuggle in bed, happy that you have a few more hours of sleep. And then … you hear them. The weyalas … you remember how close our house was to the ‘taksi tera’? It was just the most beautiful sound. It is faint with none of the chaos of the day, almost like they were making music of their own. On rare occasions when I would accompany my mom to church, this sound I used as my incentive to pull myself out of bed. And yesterday in the train, I realized that was the only thing missing from DC, lol. You see, iza honen indeza indtaltesadebin … i’m telling you, we might as well drop the search for satisfaction … human beings are way too fickle for that.
Love you, “