One year ago today...

...I was licking salt from the Agean Sea and sipping tea with teachers who spoke no English and transcribing their 20,000 words a day as they trained in the human right to freedom of conscience. We were together for a week. At the end of it, some wouldn’t be returning home. Some didn’t know if they still had a home. Some had once placed themselves between their children and armed militants, then fled for their lives. These men and women — teachers, parents — had scrawled their stories in Arabic across dozens of sticky notes. They filled a wall. My friend Jeremy and I stood before it, weeping openly. We did our jobs, then we came home. I came home to my husband and three sons. I came home impassioned and exhausted. I came home and missed our family vacation, sitting and typing while around me, sap boiled into syrup and puppies grew into dogs and my sons grew tired of waiting for me. I came home and missed sleep, missed deadlines and missed the person I hoped to be. I came home and quit my job. Tonight, hot water fills the tea cups I wash absentmindedly. The task of parenting — of cooking and cleaning and sleep-training and disciplining and trying to make sense of this crazy world to three of the souls that live here — it seems too much. Or not enough. It was easier typing all day long; more rewarding serving those who fought on the front lines for freedom. I throw cutlery into the sink and turn to look for more dirty dishes. The sun is setting through my window. Its golden glare fades the room to darkness. For a moment, I’m standing in a refugee tent, wishing I were back in my kitchen. The cutlery clatters to the bottom of the sink. The rhythm of wash-rinse-dry becomes a march. Stacks of plates become prayers. Tonight, I’ll sing. Tomorrow, I’ll paint. And in between it all, I’ll cook and clean and cuss and keep wishing everyone the freedom to do the same.

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