Thoughts From a Beach Sojourn

I woke up impatient and anxious
Chasin’ dreams in my sleep
Got me feeling like I made it
Then I wake up and see
Frustration… – Under Control, The Internet

I spent a significant amount of time this past week on the beach. In the comfort of warm shallow waters, soft sands, and gentle breezes, the mind tends to wander.

I started thinking about the ocean – how many lives has it lived, how many secrets and bodies and stories has it swallowed? Were the ocean to have a voice, were it to talk, I imagine it would mostly laugh at us, at our endless scurrying and worry, at how large we make our problems seem, at how important we think we are.

And at that time I wondered, as I increasingly do, what it all is for, the pain, the struggle, the early mornings and late nights, the broken promises, the disappointments and even words themselves.

To stand at a beach gazing out across the water is to stand at the edge of eternity, to realize how small you are, how inconsequential your existence is. It is perspective. It is a memento mori. You will cease to exist and the world will keep turning. Time will not mourn you. The tides will come and go with no delay. The ocean will keep laughing.


I R Evl

The first time I went to Space Lounge was this past August. I was already turnt by the time I got there after the evening party of one of my friends who had had a wedding. The place was packed to the rafters.

Most of the night was a blur. I vaguely remember bumping into old school mates, seeing one of them smoke shash openly, and sipping what I think was Jameson and Coke.

The hangover the following day was exquisite. I felt disembodied by the pounding in my head, the bone-deep exhaustion and my sandpaper-dry mouth. I was too knackered to even drink water.

That weekend triggered a close friend to voice her concerns about my drinking. Admittedly, it had been slowly getting out of hand. Her lashing helped me pull myself back. I was too close to the edge of the abyss.

Later in the following week, I was told by one of my friends, who did not come with us and somehow still had the information, in drunkenness I had broken shisha pipes. He said, laughingly, since there is CCTV at Space, the next time I went there, I might be charged for the damages.

Well, I went there again a few months later. Nothing happened. I danced and had a lovely time with my cousins. I was pre-juiced, although not as much as the other time and I had the good sense to drink water. However, there was a niggling dread in my stomach I was not supposed to be there.

I feel guilty for supposedly breaking the shisha pipes. Some deep part of me knows one day, somehow, I will pay for what I destroyed. When I learned Space was raided and closed for flouting city by-laws on noise, I could not help but feel an unadulterated smug glee which suffused through me and made my skin tingle.

I should not have been thrilled. Someone is out of a business and goers-out are one less place to go out. Yet I am glad because this just might be my dubious escape from the consequences of my drunken shenanigans.

The Futility of Our Favourite Things

Reading has started to feel episodic. The more I read, the more I find myself wondering what I am trying to accomplish. Betterment? Personal satisfaction? Knowledge? These things are infinite, so am I not scrambling for something eternally out of my grasp?

A large part of my reading is based on a lingering fear I am not as smart or as competent as I come across. I was a mediocre student and I struggled through most of my schooling. Despite how far I have come, this is one thing I cannot seem to shrug off. I wonder if the reason I read so much is to remind, and in my darker moments convince, myself I am not stupid.

In high school I had to wake up earlier and study to just pull ahead. I almost did not graduate from university. I wasted two years alternately swotting and hoping for some kind of miracle, wishing I did not have to kill myself to achieve what seemed like an easy-enough milestone. Hope and wishes, however, do not stop the world from turning.

I have recently stepped outside my comfort zone by taking up Matthew Riley’s Temple. It is the kind of mindless fast-paced action that perfectly balances the heavy stuff I had set for myself. I have been in thrall, as though ensorcelled. I feel a bit guilty for enjoying something unserious this much. I am also catching up with movies and television.

While I am waiting for new seasons of Narcos and Mr Robot, I am watching UnReal. I am tempted to watch Queen Sugar. I would like to read the book first and I realize what I am doing: still reaching. At some point in my life, books took on a mystical power so much so watching TV came with feelings of shame. I was wasting my time when I could have been taking in the world and engaging with it at a more meaningful level.

Perhaps these breaks from routine will offer respite from the vagaries and burdens of books and my niggling sense of not-enoughness.

The Lemon-Tea Lady

When I told her about my new house, I mentioned how I now have seats on which to relax and enjoy herbal teas. Previously, I had sat on my mattress on the floor.

She said I look like a coffee person.

I enjoy both tea and coffee. Coffee in the morning and teas throughout the day. She insisted you cannot be a coffee and tea person at the same time. I told her you can like more than one thing at a time. She replied coffee and tea have different personalities of people.

Her drinks are hot water and lemon tea.

She often comes across as naive. I do not think she is. I think she is one of those loving open-hearted people who try to see the best in everyone. She is gregarious and chats up anyone she meets. She smiles easily and hot laughter is always inches behind her perfect teeth and full lips.

She seems like the kind of person who would call you just to say hello, who would never delete your number, and who would be racked with guilt at forgetting your name.

Ako na roho safi.

Maybe that is why she did not pick up on my subtle sexually-suggestive statement. Maybe she did and chose to ignore it. Her wide-eyed warm nature draw people to her. That kind of magnetism has its drawbacks. She is likely skilled at gracefully turning down advances.

She is covered with thorns that pierce without showing they do.

Sometimes I wonder whether when I send money home, when I help friends and I am solicitous and generous, whether I am not trying to balance out my guilt at not being a better son and brother, because I do not visit more often and just talk with them, help them get a job and with their homework, be a better friend, making them feel welcome and safe, and making sure there is food and a place to lay their heads. Am I as good a person as I think I am? Are you?

This Diamond Life

When pigs fly when pigs fly I will
Uncross my fingers and promise you things I can keep. M&O

I could feel him eating me with his eyes. It was a longing under-carried by desperation. But, when you think about it isn’t all attraction, all love, a form of desperation, a desperation that centres itself, makes itself important, inflating itself and suffocating what surrounds it, including its owner?

I met his stare and smiled. I smiled because it is expected of me. Showing a flash of teeth, I lifted the anchors weighing down my lips. I smiled because that is what I am supposed to do when men show me their teeth me. I could sense what he was looking at, looking at and not seeing. I was curves and a fun time to him.

Depending on how it were to turn out, I would have been a good story, a story he could use to cement his manhood with his friends and his male family members. He would further be embraced into The Tribe of Men, selected by his brethren, and soon to be one of them, an Arbiter of Manhood.

He did not see inside me, did not see the pains and the hurts. He did not see the hot dark squirming things that are the makings of me. It is good he did not see. He looked like the type to run away screaming at a hint of undiluted womanness.

The laws of the universe dictated that he smiled at me when he caught my woman eye. They dictated he make a grab at me, a coy pass that was aware of its own coyness and therefore not coy. But, he was not interested, not in the things that matter about and to me. His only engrossment was my body. He was checking a box without thinking and questioning why he needed to check it in the first place. Socialised instinct.

I left him behind in that place of loose promises and vain hopes. He did not follow me out. He was comfortable in that papier-mâché place. I was grateful for this. Beyond the lights all men are black. His eyes followed me as far as they would go. The place is a refuge for fuckboys, a den of iniquities, rather, inequties, injustices. A place of imbalance. I was not comfortable or welcome there. Out I went, to tinsel town and beyond.

As I swept behind him and away, I glimpsed him playing SportPesa. He was paying too much attention, concentrating a little too intently to be gambling idly. He might have been a bookie, making predictions and calculating odds, not holding out for dreams of quick riches.

He is probably one of those smartish men who innately understand statistics, accurately predicting losses and wins. Maybe he was good for something. Maybe in a former, less jaded life, I would have called him with my eyes and let him take me to wherever he takes his women. But not in this life with its shininess and sharp edges.

This life called me to an online assessment for a potential job, it drew me to the second season of Mr Robot and to cups of tea sipped curled on the tattered sofa I was given by my cousin as a moving-out gift, into a bigger house that can hold my ambitions. On that sofa I see myself as I want to and see beyond myself in the writers I read and reread. On it I inhabit my daydreams and my nightmares, I drown in my light and dark thoughts. Salt and sugar both placed on my tongue and both savoured.

No, SportPesa fuckboy. Not now, not ever. Not ever again.