Yesterday I splurged on internet time and checked all my favorite blogs. Three hours later, I was bored, tired, and empty. Did I really used to do that every day?

It was dusk. I climbed down the hill to the church for vespers. The sun lay mellow on the land, like honey. I could see the houses on another hill and dream of what the world would be if the seven hills of Mwanza were as famous as the seven hills of Rome. Children shouted greetings at me, and my neighbors also.

Not wanting to be alone, I invited myself to dinner with my host family. Standing in the “backyard,” a vacant plot raised above street level, right next to where they cook, I watched sunset over Lake Victoria. Then we sat in the open corridor by the charcoal burners and chatted in Swahili for a long time. Dinner was finished after dark, as usual.

This is real. This is what matters. The words on the screen are ephemeral, illusory.

So I want to stop hiding from life.

I remember how the first couple of times I watched my family cook dinner it was torture. The meal took forever to prepare, and most of the time we just sat there–on a bench made for much shorter legs–while the charcoal burned down. Now it feels natural and wonderful that things should be made from scratch and cooked for an hour, while the family enjoys each other’s company and every now and then speaks across the open space to the neighbors’ kitchen. I don’t miss the hours I’ve spent online. I know I will miss my family, my Tanzania.