Today was a weird day. I found out after class that my dog was put down last night. This further confirms my theory that no conversation started by my father with “Hey Em” (or “Hey kid,”) ever ends without something horrible happening in it.
Linguistic weirdness aside, I didn’t think this was a particularly sad thing. The dog was very old for a greyhound, and had been very sick for a long time. She was put down at home, and as far as doggy lives go she lived a remarkably good one. I was bummed out, but we all knew it was coming.
Then I returned to the host compound of unusually spiked emotions, where–after my host mother told me she was going to whip me so I learn Wolof, because that is the way to make your host child less scared of you of course–I spent most of lunch trying not to cry. (Which, to be fair, not the first time that this has happened. This is just the first time that the reason for the tears wasn’t in the room while I was eating.)
After I finished lunch (and the subsequent mostly-joking fight with my host mom about how I hadn’t eaten enough), I retreated to my room, where I broke down sobbing.
So that was unexpected.
I had the good sense to do the thing that I do when I’m upset here where I cry into a bath towel to muffle it (yes, typing that sentence out does make me realize that I sound mentally ill, we’re working on it) becaues the walls are thin. I’m a loud and kind of visibly gross crier, so who knows how much of my family asking whether I was sleeping is actually them politely Not Acknowledging that they can tell that I’ve been crying for the last half hour.
I haven’t told them why I’m sad yet. I don’t want to have to explain why the death of a domestic animal makes me sad, and I don’t know that it would be readily understood (given that pets here are Not a Thing). Plus there’s the additional level of surprise that I’m rocking at how sad it has apparently made me. My emotions are completely out of whack since I got here.
There’s also the added weirdness that I have actually not been able to vocalize “mon chien est mort” (language practice!) without starting crying again, and I’m increasingly worried that my host mother’s way of comforting me should I cry in front of her will involve yelling. She’s not mean, but she is a strong presence. A strong, kind of scary, presence.
So I think for the rest of the day minimal cultural immersion is probably the best course for everyone. Woohoo, learning experiences!
RIP Nutmeg. You were an excellent dog.