Painting on Two Canvases


I still have a paintbrush. Only, maybe the canvas has changed.

The dusty city has turned suburb; I buy mangos in a store, not on the street; I can eavesdrop in people’s conversations because they are all in English; I drive to the store rather than walk; I can wear shorts; I am not charged per minute when I talk on the phone, I am not stared at when I walk in public.

My Kenyan Canvas is something that I have to hang on the wall, for now. Admire it. Evaluate it. Critique it. And of course, wait eagerly for a time in the future where I can remove it from where it hangs in my memory and paint again!

This new canvas… or at least this canvas that feels like new, actually should be more familiar to me. Yet I am surprised, after three weeks of painting on it, that it feels foreign. I have mixed feelings. I can feel excited for this change in scenery, and the familiar people and deep relationships that are spread thick on my USA canvas. Simultaneously, as I paint this new canvas, I have to do things differently than I have been doing for two years, and the adjustment can feel weird… use a spoon, don’t just show up at a person’s house and expect them to be able to hang out, speak in English, live independent of other people, use machines for washing clothes and dishes.

This canvas feels blank right now.

Of course it wouldn’t have been so blank if I had been around to work on it the last two years, but initially I feel like I am almost starting to paint it for the first time.

My US Canvas is beginning again. And I have huge plans of what to paint! Mostly still in my mind, but they are slowly flowing from my brain to my fingers… financing education for people in Kenya, beginning a nonprofit, finding a fulfilling and well=paying job, going to get my MBA. Because my painting on this canvas is just starting again I have endless possibilities!

Yet, may I never fully concentrate on one canvas so much that I block out the other. I want to dabble in both and shift back and forth… using brushes to decorate Kenya’s canvas even though for the moment the US canvas is a closer reach… I have a feeling the canvases will both be painted on more and more often!


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