4th of July at US Embassy (Day 7 Part 2)

On the evening of July 3rd, Kaori and I were back at the house, putting on our heels and make-up and preparing for the Fourth of July party being hosted by the US Embassy. It felt strange that an hour ago, Jerry was telling us he would die if he stopped looking for work each day, and here I was, a 20-minute drive away, fussing over which pair of heels to wear.

The house I was staying in had this beautifully furnished living room, with warm lights and cozy brick floors. There was a table big enough to seat a family of eight in the center of the room, with matching place mats and coasters placed neatly in the center of the table.  The floor-to-ceiling sliding doors facing the backyard could be opened up into the back patio, where a perfectly planted palm tree swayed in the wind while birds and various insects danced around it.  Many nights, after coming home from the orchestra site, Kaori and I would curl up on the couches on the patio, drinking wine and chatting about our day as we listened to the symphony of birds serenade us.

Behind the palm tree, the various shades of grey blended together the Congo river and the skies above, and although on most days it was too cloudy to see, I knew that the Republic of Congo, on the other side of river, was quite close...I never found out exactly how close this neighboring country was, but I know it's close enough to hear gun shots being fired on the other side. In fact, the giant, floor-to-ceiling glass doors had extra protective films on them, in case any powerful explosions were fired across the river that could shatter these glass doors. The funny thing was, somehow, when the protective films were placed, no one had bothered to take off the cute butterfly window decorations presumably put on the glass doors by the family living there previously, and so the butterflies remained on these doors, sandwiched by the protective film, looking out into a backyard full of real butterflies.

I saw a little bit of myself in these butterfly decorations as I fussed over my hair and make up. Here I was, in Kinshasa after-all, staying in a beautiful home and getting excited about attending a fancy party hosted by the US Embassy. Is that even allowed? It's not like I seriously considered staying at home instead, but it was just hard to wrap my head around the situation. 

There were many moving speeches made that night, including one by the second lady, Jill Biden! I also heard the national anthem of DR Congo being sung for the first time, and it was quite beautiful. There was a live Congolese band called New Concepts playing there that night as well, and we really enjoyed their playing. 

It was nice to be around so many expats, and I definitely felt reenergized when I came home. Hmm..maybe I needed to be an optimist too, like Jerry. Being in Kinshasa doesn't mean apologizing for having a great time. Working here means I should also enjoy and appreciate Kinshasa too, like their music, their food, and their people. And if someone wants to decorate windows with butterfly stickers, they certainly should do that too!

- Nana