Several years ago, I was lucky enough to spend some time in Ghana, West Africa. While I met many intriguing, strong and wonderful people there, I want to talk about one in particular: Solomon, who drove a shiny red BMW like a bat out of hell, with his thick arm and lemon-head shaped face hanging out the window, all-the-while honking wildly. He was one of the host-fathers of my group and the self-appointed social coordinator, which is no surprise considering his nickname was "Action Man." The Action Man would often be out with us students on a Thursday or Friday evening after class before we all headed home and after plying us with more Guiness or Star Beers than we wanted, he would insist that we eat with him. Upon finishing, he would lean back, pat his ample belly and proclaim, "I am myself again," as if the time elapsed since his previous meal had somehow made him less of himself, or someone else.
Now, any of you who get hangry know that this can be a real feeling, but I've always seen it that he was most happy and content, and therefore most himself when he had a full belly, a buzz and people he loved around him. I've been thinking about this a lot in my own life, particularly in the past few months. I always think to myself: I wish I liked reading literary books, but I stick with my historical fiction and historical monographs. I wish I was more artsy, but love sports more. I wish I could go to bed early enough so that I could wake up early enough to exercise before work, but I always have "one more thing" to do before bed and I'm really bad and waking up before the sun. I wish I wore heels more often and looked like a boss walking in them, but I love my sensible flats and warm boots. I wish I ate all organic food and could swear off junk and fast food, but I'm just an average girl who lives by an average grocery store and I love me a good McD's breakfast sammy every few months when I'm out and about early on a Saturday morning and I've been known to stop at Wendy's for a JBC when I'm hungry in between meals and hide the evidence, and I'm a real sucker for Pepsi from the fountain. I wish I liked snacking on almonds like all the skinny, fit people, but I've always been partial to a handful of pretzels and whatever hunk of cheese I can rummage up.
But guess what, I read lots of great stuff, I can spend hours in an impressionist museum, I get up early on Saturdays to run, bike or yoga, depending on the season, I have some pretty kickin' high-heeled boots, my butcher can tell me what local farm all my meat came from and all my summer produce comes from the back yard and I am a pretty fit person. I recently spent 5 days with one of my best friends who I hadn't seen in a year and I was thinking about all the things that are different about us. I realized that people probably see things in me that they wish they were more like and that I just need to be me and stop trying to cultivate the things that I admire about other people in myself, because those things aren't who I am. That's why I like those people--they do things I don't that I think are awesome and they enrich me through their actions and stories, just as I enrich them with mine. So, this then, is me, Kelli: the teacher, daughter, friend that God made and that the people in my life cherish, nothing more, nothing less. No Kelly, Kellie, just simply "i."