Friday, November 11, 2005

now and then, here and there (a migration)

A home could be made here - made here by someone. Made here by someone other than me. She rocks, she rolls through the waves, her massive hull creaking with every mighty lean. I dated a girl like that once. That's what you'd say. I laugh to myself in the darkness. I just lie there snickering, until that snicker turns to a chuckle, til that chuckle turns to a cackle, and til that cackle turns to a howl. Just me and the darkness. I'm lying there, head resting on a sack of something, feet up on a crate of something else, and laughing to myself. And I'll laugh myself to sleep if I bloody well have to.

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 1998

We're younger now than we will be. Younger and just a little more brash. Well, you use the word brave, but in my language, that signifier does not match up with the intended signified, so I throw brash out there - and you smile that smile. Full of teeth, eyes crinkling comfortably in the corners, genuine. You've smiled this same smile often. I can tell.

"What we are doing here?" you ask. There's a shuffling of feet on sandy floorboards. A running of rough fingers through thick, black hair. A dry cough through drier lips.

"Just having a beer," I say, lifting my glass. "Afya! Vifijo! Drink up - we've time for but a single pint before going on to the next place."

We're just passing through. We're always just passing through. And we'll pass through the next city, as well. We'll pass through this city, the next, and all cities thereafter as unnoticed as extras in a dream. A man will wake up tomorrow with the vague recollection of having seen us, and in a sweltering Tanzanian police station, he'll give his dubious account. He'll talk for hours, sweating into his chair, rifling through his memory. He'll leave, go back home to his wife and kids, and our paper counterparts will sit on a great oak desk tormenting the inspector. We'll exist as vague facsimiles shuffled into a thousand piles of paper around the globe. Invisible.

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