What is going on in America? This was the constant question I would ask or write to people. Watching things was my way of learning how to create my identity. In the 90s, it became my way of figuring out how I was supposed to be a teenager. Just watching Saved by the Bell or Beverly Hills 90201 was how I learned how the famous people acted. When I watched shows on the WB, I learned about the lives of a preacher’s kids and how they dealt with being different from other kids (a salute to 7th Heaven). Then Dawson’s Creek came along, and wow, that was something different altogether. Guy meets girl then decides whether being friends was better than dating. Oh, how I loved the intrigue. Each week I learned something new. To spice things up, I added some fantasy-like Charmed or comic book era shows. Realized I wanted to have a life that was depicted on the screen or at least close as I could get to it.
Being off the grid in Ethiopia, I watched shows via satellite. Some were a few seasons behind, while by some wild chance, I got to see a movie that was coming soon to the tv screen. Watched trailers via commercials that talked about the latest Box Office hit. Once again, I was intrigued. One of the counselors, before I left, encouraged me to watch shows and people to help me figure out how people usually did things. So, I took that advice to heart. It did not matter if I had to watch above Arabic captions. Going to do whatever it took to watch tv.
Sometimes people would look at me funny when I asked what movies they had seen before they arrived in Ethiopia from the States. Hungered for some sort of entertainment that would show me live’s characteristics. I wanted to find myself again on the screen. Extremely disappointed to find out that Spotify and Netflix did not show over there. Decided beggars cannot be the chooser and took whatever I could find.
I watched cooking shows like My Kitchen Rules or Top Chef. Imagined myself cooking with the famous chefs and learning all the skills and competing for prizes. Then the dumb signal would change, and then I had to find something else to feed my interest. I would say favorite was watching Gordon Ramsey with his flavorful critique for everyone from restauranteurs to contestants. Once I signed up to Twitter, I began following all these great chefs hoping to glimpse into their lives since watching them began to be complicated.
It was around this time that I began to watch How to Get Away with Murder. Oh, I was so thankful to watch a cast lead by a woman of color… the great Viola Davis. I decided if I wanted to be healthy and confident, this was the show to watch. Since my taste of the foodie life was limited by watching and well not being able to practice things I observed. Decided strengthening my presence was the next thing to work on.
I wanted so badly to return to the comforts of America to watch shows (in real-time) and movies that I had heard of when I could watch entertainment tv. So, I made up my mind to figure out how to make my return a reality. It began with listening to music that empowered me. I found songs that my mind would link to empowerment Whitney Houston, Bangles, Gloria Gaynor, and anything else at my fingertips. I discovered I could listen to Apple Music with the credits I had saved up from before my trip and when people asked me what I needed or gifts I requested. I would say “iTunes gift cards.” Knew I could get music and books to read. It made me up to my mind I was not going to live off the grid forever. I needed to find myself and fast before my depression took over my mind.
I would sit with my mom and discuss what I needed to do to make my return a reality. We would make lists and talk a plan of action. It was hard. The body was not at its fittest, and my mind still a bit wobbly. Will to change began to take form, and I had to tell myself it was time to get better. If Viola’s character could do all that and some, then so could I.
Did I mention I did not have a job while I was doing this? Lived on the kindness and gifts from many people. Trust me, that can get old amazingly fast. I decided if I was going to do this, then I had to learn how to make myself do so much and on my own. I used my blog to document my journey. At the time, I did not know if anyone was reading it. Did anyone wonder what had happened to me? Not to mention,,,, this would be a terrific way for my son to watch how his mother grew into her own personality.