As adults we often criticize children for taking things for granted. We try to force them to see how lucky they are. We long for them to know that they will miss these days. As adults, we recognize that when we were children we took things for granted and we desperately hope that they will be different.
We seldom went on official safaris when I was a little girl. A safari was a special event reserved for the rare occasion that we had visitors from the States. The fact of the matter is, the drive home was a safari, I just didn’t realize it.
Zebra, impala, and wildebeest were all just part of the landscape. When a giraffe wandered gracefully across the plains, it might as well have been a tree for the attention we paid.
People would come to visit us and point excitedly to the herd of zebra and impala on the horizon. My dad would patiently stop the car and pull over so they could stare in wonderment while I rolled my eyes and thought of the hours and hours we still had ahead of us in the car.
Just as a child living in Southern California pays no attention to the palm trees and misses the magnificence of the ocean. Nor does he appreciate the splendor of snow-capped mountains in the winter and sun-drenched beaches in summer.
I knew it was beautiful, but I never realized how amazing. I never knew how those mundane drives would hold the sights I miss most. I could not have predicted that the images of the plains between Nairobi and Loita would one day bring me to tears of nostalgia. I didn’t understand that the question, “What was it like to live in Africa?” would immediately call up the images of Kenya’s landscape, leaving me without words because my throat had constricted.
I knew, but I didn’t understand. I knew that it was special, but I didn’t understand that it was extraordinary.