‘I don’t know how to explain it without it sounding silly,’ she said.
‘Do you think it’s silly?’ I asked.
‘No!’ she said. ‘I think it’s wonderful.’
‘So, why should it sound silly?’ I asked.
‘I just don’t feel like things are any different than they were before,’ she said.
‘Do you think things should be different?’ I asked.
‘People expect things to be different so I feel silly to mention it since they aren’t any different,’ she said.
‘Do you not want to tell people?’ I asked.
‘I do want to because I’m very happy,’ she said. ‘But I don’t want to tell them if they are going think it’s silly.’
‘I don’t think anyone can take anything away from it,’ I said.
‘I know and I want to tell people,’ she said, ‘but I don’t want to tell them if they’re not going to get it because it’ll make me sad.’
‘How will they not get it?’ I asked.
‘Maybe they will think you don’t really care because you didn’t make a big thing out of it,’ she said, ‘or they will think I don’t really care because I don’t feel like things are any different now.’
After this there was a pause and I waited for her to say more but then I realized that the call had dropped. I redialed but I got a busy tone because she was dialing me. I tried twice more and then I stopped and a moment later my phone rang.
‘We’re getting 20 percent now,’ she said.
We had registered for a calling plan that gave certain discounts based on the day and time and location of the call. We were spending enormous amounts of money on airtime since she had moved to Zwedru and it had become our habit to start each call by announcing the discount even though it never influenced the duration.
‘Do you wish I had made a big thing out of it?’ I asked.
‘No. I like how you did it,’ she said, ‘and it’s not a big thing to me except everyone expects it to be.’
‘So you like the way it is and you want to tell people about it but you don’t want to tell them because you think they will think it’s silly even though it’s exactly how you want it to be?’ I asked.
‘Yes!’ she said. ‘That’s it exactly.’
‘You’re exhausting!’ I said.
She moaned and I continued.
‘Really I think you’re comparing apples to oranges,’ I said.
‘What do you mean?’ she said.
‘We all need excitement, right?’ I said.
‘I think it’s very hard to do exciting things because it takes lots of time and effort and certainly courage – like that friend of yours that’s mountain biking through Rwanda. I think it’s a lot easier to create excitement out of celebrating what we already have. Does that make sense?’
‘I guess it does,’ she said.
‘For me, I want us to celebrate what we have done – together,’ I said. ‘And I want us to make a life that will have plenty of things to celebrate.’
‘That’s what I want,’ she said. ‘I want us to have many, many doing things to celebrate. That’s what I’ve always wanted.’
‘Good,’ I said. ‘So maybe that’s why you don’t feel like it’s a big deal and nothing has changed.’
‘Ok, love,’ she said. ‘I’m with you on it.’
The line was silent. I thought she was thinking more about it was actually that the mobile phone network had cut into her end of the line.
‘It’s telling me I only have one minute left! Call me back! Call me back!’ she said and she immediately hung up.
I dialed her number and she answered before I heard the first ring.
‘You know you have a whole minute left when the message cuts in. You don’t have to be in such a rush,’ I said.
‘I know. I like to save it in case I need it before I have a chance to load new airtime,’ she said and without a breath she continued. ‘So I’m with you that it’s not a big deal and on the celebrating the doing. But what do I tell people when they ask why we’re not making a big deal of it?’
‘Tell them we’re oranges,’ I said.
She thought about this and then she said, ‘Yeah, we’re oranges!’
She thought about it for another moment and then she said, ‘But that’s not enough to tell them.’
‘I think you’re struggling with this because you’re trying to make our orange thing conform to an apple’s expectations,’ I said.
‘That’s exactly what I’m doing,’ she said. ‘I’m a closeted orange!’
‘Maybe you are,’ I said. ‘If you try to make it conform or you make excuses for it, it sounds like you don’t believe in it.’
‘But I do believe in it,’ she said. ‘It’s exactly what I want it to be.’
‘I believe you,’ I said.
‘So what should I do?’ she said suddenly sounding very tired.
‘Tell people or don’t tell people,’ I said. ‘Just don’t make apple sauce out of us!’