Dear Wild One

The wild is ours to share.

And it is an honor to be your one in a million, to be bit by the same bug, to share the same infliction of desperate longing for an impossibly far away place.

That one place.

I don’t know what it is about East Africa, but I remember promising you that this would happen. The wild gets under your skin. It creeps in beneath your nails, through the nylon webbing of your running shoes, through the bare skin between your ankles and your knees.

It is a red rich with blood and vitality and suffering and endurance. It is the perfect blend of their ebony skin and our pale complexions. I could stare at the color for hours upon hours, mesmerized by its richness. There is very little I find more beautiful than a red dirt road in East Africa.

The road that starts at the tips of your toes or the hood of your truck and winds away for as far as the eye can see. It is both the start and end of a good story and it doesn’t matter much that you happen to be there eat all. The road, the dust, East Africa, it doesn’t need you.

But for some reason we need it. I need it. I need it for its indomitable spirit, for its intention and passion, for the choice that its people make every single day to get up and survive. To dance. I need it for the pale green Savannah, the wide open sky, for the bright fabric, and the dark eyes. Mostly though, I need East Africa and every parcel of its red dust for the emblem of liberating adventure that it will always and forever represent in my life.

You breathe in the dust of that place and it settles in your soul, never to be the same again.

It’s only natural to want to share a place that has profoundly changed you with the ones you love. You daydream of the adventure together, you tell stories, and listen to drums, and dig out photographs. You promise them forever over broken phone lines. But more than anything, you want them to see the beauty – in all of its raw brokenness and infuriating imperfection – for themselves. You want them to breathe in the red dust right beside you because it’s just too hard to explain. You want them to stand beneath the biggest sky in the world and curl their toes in the dirt, because how could you possibly convey the feeling of its grains or the vastness of its blue. You want to sip sweet dark tea with them and look into the blackness of night so that they feel for themselves just how small we all are. You want them to see you throw your head back and laugh with wild abandon the way you will in that place. That one place where joy is contagious and beauty is intoxicating and adventure is just waiting to be had.

Of course you want to share that. We want the ones we love to love the very best version of ourselves. I may never be better than I was there. I will certainly never be more alive.

I may be your one in a million, I may be the only person with the same red dust under my nails, fueling my fire, staining my soul. But let us thank our lucky stars that there are at least two of us. I can’t imagine living with this feeling all alone.

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