The house where our team stayed in on Shortheath Road in Harare, Zimbabwe
I suppose some conflicts are rooted in childhood memories, or triggered by pheromones, or perhaps Andi or I or both were being overly sensitive to small slights we would have overlooked at another time. Certainly her hostility toward me did not seem to spring from a hostile nature, and while I resented what I saw as her know-it-all attitude, I also realized several of my best friends at home behaved the same way without provoking anything but amusement on my part. No matter how irrational, however, our mutual dislike hung over the group like clouds that couldn’t make up their minds to rain. Nobody else commented on it directly, although Andi’s favorites in the group, Marsha and Elaine, seemed to make a point of disagreeing with my views on everything but the weather, although always in the politest of tones, whereas my two closest companions, Emma and Karen, made it clear they were not there to get involved in other people’s squabbles. Not being there to get involved in other people’s squabbles myself, I could hardly blame them, and counted Emma’s and Karen’s automatic inclusion of me in their plans as enough of a declaration of loyalty.
At the same time, I was enjoying myself wholeheartedly. Having made up my mind that I was taking a vacation from everything else in my life: motherhood, job, ex-husband, housecleaning, and the whole Northern hemisphere, I was able to add “being liked by everybody” to the list and view Andi’s hostility to me as I did my malaria pill: something to be swallowed at regular intervals and then forgotten.
And that's where I got stuck. Reading the story over, I think it was just as well. My story wasn't going to win any prizes. My intent when I posted the fragment I have was "to post the part of the story I had written as two blogposts, and then finish with an account of the rest". The problem I am having, however, is the same as the problem I had when I started the story. What is "the rest"? There were so many facets of my life that merge in my mind when I remember the trip to Africa: the breakup of my marriage, the depression I fell into after my marriage broke up, even though I initiated the divorce, my precarious job situation, the trip itself, including the study we were helping with, and my conflict with one of the other team members. What I think will be most interesting to readers is the study itself and the country we visited, but if the other events sneak into my account, well, you've been warned.