Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa

Black cloud

In the Vancouver firefighting force, some firefighters are constantly called to fires, regardless of which Firehall they’re assigned to.  This is unusual because Vancouver doesn’t have many fire incidents nowadays.  These firefighters that seem to attract (or are attracted to) fires are called Black Clouds.

I feel like I’ve been a Black Cloud lately.

It’s a self-centred and pessimistic statement, I know.  Hundreds of things go right, a few things go wrong, and yet I string together the few bad things and declare my luck is going badly?  Yep, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

Why?  Because it’s hard for me to admit that I was at a super low point last week, but that’s part of this adventure so I’m confessing it.  Straight up honest, I wanted to go home.  Not that I ever would go home, but in the moment I really, really wanted to.

First, the week leading up to my departure was hectic.  Too many errands, lots of forgotten things, too many arguments… I felt like I was aggravating everyone close to me.  Then a very long two day plan ride in which I lost my phone at the first layover (overnight in Toronto) and spent the next 24 hours berating myself.

Once in Ghana, things did not get better right away.  It took three days for my luggage to arrive.  I was so excited to go the airport and pick it up – plus I got to spend a few hours with the summer Junior Fellows before they left – that I was starting to feel good again.  Maybe too good because while I was struggling with my big heavy bag back at the house I was staying at, the taxi driver stole my laptop out of my smaller backpack.  When I realized it, I was devastated.  How could I be so stupid?  I had opened my little backpack to pull out my purse – why didn’t I close it again right away?  Less than a week and I’d already lost two of my electronics!  How am I ever going to contribute to Amplify Governance when I can barely keep my shit together?

In typical mid-20s girl fashion, my self-confidence plummeted.  I spent the night sobbing and hating myself.

Rational Princess B knew that I was overreacting, but Emotional Princess B had lots of pent up anxiety that was going to burst at something – and a lost computer was enough to break the dam.

By the next morning, though, I’d perked up.  It was an old computer that I was planning on replacing soon anyways.  Same with my phone.  The universe was simply forcing me to make the step a little faster than I’d planned – but I could deal with it.  Amplify had a spare laptop to lend me.  It’s so big (and HEAVY) that it barely fits into my backpack, but I’ll make it work.  They gave me a phone too.

Everything worked out fine and I remind myself that stuff is just stuff.  I think of the other JFs who had their house broken into or my Canadian friend in South Africa who has had at least three phones, one laptop, and one external hard drive stolen.  I’ve had a laptop stolen before back home in Vancouver.  That time it was actually much more inconvenient.

So I’ve decided to stop thinking myself as a Black Cloud.  I am not a walking disaster.  My number one pep talk these past few days is, “Get over yourself, Princess B.”


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3 thoughts on “Black cloud

  1. And you’re already cutting down on the stuff you’ll be bringing back 🙂

  2. Christine on said:

    Takes courage to not only face your vulnerabilities and perceived shortcomings but also to share those thoughts and feelings with other. Hats off to you Ms B. You’re very gutsy just being there. What you’ve taken on would be beyond most of us.

    Much Love

  3. Sorry to hear about the bumpy start! Cut yourself some slack, you’re allowed to be upset about those things! And the fact that you were upset for a while, thought it through, recognized that everything will work out, and moved past it is a much better reflection of how you respond to negative events than focusing on your initial response in isolation. Sending hugs 🙂

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