I Remember

I’ve been tossing and turning in bed, thinking of Durban.

I don’t know why I’m thinking of it again, now, suddenly, when I’ve gone so long without talking about it, ruminating, thinking anything beyond, “I drank a lot in Africa.”

But I remember. I’m lying awake remembering things; leaning out the big back window of my little one-and-a-half room flat and watching the storms come in over the Indian Ocean. Watching the big red sheet I kept over the living room window billow in the wind and scatter the light. I remember long, drunken nights of dancing. Shots of tequila. Rum and coke. I remember the way the air tasted, how it clung to my skin; I remember the crazy rides in the overpacked taxis and the dust that clung to everything. I remember chain smoking while writing a thesis and a novel, and yes, I remember the bugs. The flying cockroaches, the geckos that lived in the cupboards, the nest of unnammable creatures living under the bathtub. I remember stumbling home drunk and waking up in my own bed wearing only a towel. I remember hot nights.

I remember the people. The sound of Zulu. And I remember Julian’s house, this stolid, quiet little house with the front porch and the big dining table under the awning out back, and I remember the good wine and the good coffee, and the dinner parties. I remember laughing. I remember being asked what I thought my worth was, in cows. I remember a woman at a noisy dance club asking me for aspirin, because, you see, her stomach hurt; she’d just had an abortion. I remember being driven home by some pretty drunk drivers. I remember never quite feeling like I fit in. I remember not being pretty enough. I remember not being smart enough. I remember the art parties, the bottles of wine.

I remember running away from everything and ending up there, on the other side of the world. I remember monkeys perched on top of garbage cans. I remember figuring out, for the first time, what love was. I remember lying awake and tossing and turning and trying to figure it out, and suddenly understanding, and thinking, “Ahhh… this was my lesson. This is why I had to come to Africa. Not for the cockroaches or the banana trees or the ocean storms, but this, here, yes.”

And I remember looking back at Table Mountin from a boat in the harbor and thinking, “I have come to the ends of the earth. I can stop running now.”

I’d spent five years running and running and running. Running from an old life, an old self, and I was ready to stop. I was ready to live again. I was tired of running because I was afriad. I wanted another reason to get up in the morning.

I wanted the storms to be enough.

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