I miss Eritrea – the smell of the air, the women cloaked in white, the simultaneous sound of the Mosque and Orthodox church in Asmara. I can’t wait to go back next year. I plan to go when I finish my Master’s.

But I never know if I am missing home (my mom/dad/brother/sister) or missing Africa. I find it interesting how these are one and the same in my head. I miss Eritrea because my aunts, cousins, uncles, grandmother, all extended family is there but it is not technically ‘home’. I was not raised there is what I mean. But when I miss home it is everything I miss – immediate family here but also extended family there.

I miss the white sand in Keren. The older women roasting coffee bossing around the youngest child to go get some sugar. I miss the small shops that sell Arabic and Italian sweets with American pop music playing and the handsome teenage boys with shining eyes and smiles singing along with their accents. I miss seeing the slightly ripped posters of Michael Jackson and Tupac slipping off the warm, moist walls.

I miss going to Edaga, the market, to buy the brightly coloured scarves with unique prints, to choose the right meter and the style of dress. I miss bargaining for prices and going as low as you can go. I miss them trying to rip me off cause they think I’m a rich tourist. Having a sharp tongue with the owner, I miss hearing him laugh with surprise that such a young girl from abroad has good command of the language and is not afraid to use it. I miss catching his wink as we leave the store…

I miss going home and struggling with the door to the complex, my grandmother asking if I want tea. Coffee? Milk? My cousins asking if I need help to wash my hair, clothes, shoes. Always asking, always someone considering your need even when you have no need. All you want to do is sit on a rock and look up at the black sky uninterrupted by florescent street lights. Just a dark sky with a half-hidden moon and huge, luminous, stars. No need except to smell the fresh air unpolluted by the smog of urbanism. No need except to smile at the neighbour walking by and say ‘B’ruk Mishet’- Good night.

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