I want to be grey with you.

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Dear Jubilee Children,

I remember pulling up that first day to Jubilee. I saw you all from far away as you came to swarm the truck. You looked grey. As you came up closer I realized that the sweat on your skin had caused the dust and mud to stick to you covering you in an ash grey. I know you are a beautiful deep rich black underneath but to me, you looked grey. As I climbed out of that truck the first day I will admit to you all, my heart was focused on me. I was tired, hot, and sweaty. I was annoyed at the dust I had eaten on the 20 minute drive over to you. As I looked down at you all, I knew the swarm would over take me and I would have no choice but to let you touch me. I thought to myself “Okay April, you can make it through an hour with the kids. This is what you’re here for remember?” But my heart was not into it. I was right, the swarm did overtake me. You touched every bit of my exposed ivory skin. You took my perfectly shampooed hair in your dirty hands and played with nearly every strand, much to my annoyance. You grabbed on me; on my arms, on my legs, on my hands. You jumped on my back. You climbed in my lap. And I walked away from you dirty, sweaty and unchanged.

The next day I came again, knowing this time it would be more than a mere hour I would have to play with you, and I was irritated. I wanted to be with you, but I didn’t want you to touch me. I wanted me to touch you while I maintained my 3 foot bubble. But again you would not allow it. And I left more dirty, more sweaty and again unchanged.

For 3 days we played this delicate dance. You wanted my love. I wanted to give it to you but under my terms. You broke my new backpack. You broke every boundary. You broke my heart. And slowly something changed. Slowly I became okay with having you play with me. Slowly I didn’t mind as much when even my arm hair was sticky with dirt at the end of the day. Slowly the sweaty palms didn’t matter as much as the hands that I was able to hold while I walked around town. Slowly the mud and dirt and feces and nakedness did not matter as much as the smiles I could generate from tickling you. Slowly I mattered less and you mattered more. And by the time I realized that, we were pulling away, bags packed and ready for the airport to go home. And something inside of me broke right then.

I looked at my sister and asked her why what once bothered me, did not matter at all anymore. She smiled and simply stated, “It is because you feel in love with them.” And she was right. I feel in love with you all. And now my heart longs to be back there with you. I long to hold your sweaty hands. Pick up your dirty bodies. Tickle you, despite your nakedness. I long to walk in the dirt with you, allowing the sweat to make the dust stick to my skin as we walk here or there. I will no longer think of it as me being dirty. No. I will be grey. Like you.

Maybe this time when I come to you, I can change you as much as you have changed me.

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