Tricia Marries a Seven-Year-Old

Fatick, Senegal – April 2010

“I’ll be the queen,” Melody said.  She pointed at me, “You can be the princess, and Ethan will be the bodyguard.”

I leaned back, enjoying the shaded hut in the Forsythe’s front yard.  “I want to be the queen,” I said, lazily stealing a 9-year-old’s dream.  “I don’t want to have to move.”

1917526_530178347992_7414675_nMelody is nicer than me, so she quickly agreed.  “Okay, I’ll be your servant!”

This selflessness made me uncomfortable.  “No, I mean.  You can be a princess.  You can sit here with me.”

“No, no, no.  I’m your servant.  What do you want to drink?  Can I get you something to eat?”

“…Well.  A Vimto would be nice.”  Melody ran inside to satisfy my whim.

Ethan stood nearby with a stick.  “Do you want to jump on the trampoline, Miss Trish?” he asked.

It was so hot.  “I don’t think queens jump on trampolines,” I said sadly.

Melody returned, carrying a can of Vimto with a straw.  “I had the best idea!” she said.  “The kingdom is under attack, and you have to get married!”  Continue reading

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Bizarre Celebrations with My Fatick Family

Nearly five years ago, I created this dance video while I was living in Senegal.  Today, I am traveling to Tennessee to visit a whole bunch of people who lent their groove thangs to the making of this work of art.

There’s so much I love about this video.  There are, of course, my hilarious and beautiful friends awkwardly dancing in restaurants, grocery stores, and on rooftops.  There are the “oh no, how do I fill this space?” moments where I single-handedly address the camera.  But mostly, I love how so much of my Senegal experience is captured in these tiny moments.

That’s the school room where Liz and I taught English and practiced the Kochibama skit with high school students.  That’s the rooftop where we sang hymns until the sun set and I couldn’t see anyone’s faces.  Those are the birthday decorations for Liz and Kim’s combined birthday party, hosted in the guest house in Dakar where I once had horrifying food sickness.  That’s my tiny bed with the mosquito netting I used regularly after hearing about a lizard snuggling into someone’s pillow.  Those are the pictures of friends I brought, assuming I would be paralyzed by home-sickness, only to find a new family in Fatick.

My Fatick family.  I shared life with them for five months, and that could have been the end.  But I love them, and five years later, I never want to stop hanging out with them.

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“Romance” in Senegal

At a grocery store in Dakar, the Senegalese man bagging my boxes of cereal asked, “Your name?”

“Tricia,” I answered.  He stared at me.  “Uh, you can pronounce it Tree-see-a.”

“Tree-see-a!” he exclaimed.  “My name is Kuba.”

“Kuba?  Nice to meet you.”

“I enjoy you,” he said.

“Thanks.”  That was weird, I thought, but kind of nice.

“I love you,” Kuba said.

My brain short-circuited, so I fell back on the French phrase I’d been told was good for any situation.  “…Ce va?”

Kuba wouldn’t be distracted.  “Do you love me?”

“I just met you!” I said.  I grabbed my bags and walked as quickly as possible out of the store.  Continue reading