Bless my heart, bless my soul

Time flies when you’re holding on

Face like a Guy Fawkes mask, nose like Mr Potato Head’s, rocking the Fird Unemployed, still sitting pretty. Your fave could never.

We’re going to start this with a quote from Alabama Shakes’ Hold On.

Bless my heart, bless my soul
Didn’t think I’d make it to 22 years old

Honestly, I’ve never thought about where I’d be at a certain age. I mean, I thought I’d be married at 22, but that came and went. Why 22? My mother got married at 22. It seemed like such a prime age to have children and forget about the whole child-bearing thing. Prime age to have your body bounce back too. But these things; you can only make plans and wish upon a star.

I’ve never thought about where I’d be at a certain age because frankly, I don’t look/plan that far into the future. I take each day as it comes — patiently, with a little bit of long suffering. The sort of thing you do when life tastes like air and you’re unsure if your memories are real or part of some dream you had. Deja vu, is that you?

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence. I haven’t seen that movie, neither can I remember where I heard about it from (probably some YouTube listicle on amazing use of colour/silence/whatever). It doesn’t matter. Sometimes titles speak to you and you find yourself responding. Not unlike what I felt when I heard (of) Courtney Barnett’s Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. I’m sitting right now. It’s one of my favourite things to do.

Today, we’re pondering on life and the journey so far. Retrospecting. I tried to do that earlier but slept off. Such a boring thing to do. I think I do it wrong. Maybe the key is to start from now, then work backwards as opposed to starting from the past and working your way to the present. Oh, that’s obvious? Shut up.

I̶’̶m̶ ̶o̶n̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶h̶i̶g̶h̶w̶a̶y̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶a̶ ̶b̶l̶a̶c̶k̶ ̶b̶a̶n̶d̶a̶n̶a̶,̶ ̶h̶e̶a̶d̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶A̶t̶l̶a̶n̶t̶a̶.̶ ̶U̶n̶t̶i̶l̶ ̶I̶ ̶h̶e̶a̶r̶d̶ ̶W̶O̶O̶P̶ ̶W̶O̶O̶P̶,̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶”̶S̶o̶u̶n̶d̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶D̶a̶ ̶P̶o̶l̶i̶c̶e̶”̶,̶ ̶s̶h̶o̶u̶l̶d̶ ̶I̶ ̶p̶u̶l̶l̶ ̶o̶v̶e̶r̶?̶ I’m sitting at the restaurant of some hotel in Bauchi. This is arguably the worst hotel I have ever been in in my entire life, and I don’t even know where to begin. Is it the food? Is it the bathroom? Is it the total lack of hangers/rod in the wardrobe? Is it the 1975 National AC? Is it the leaking sink? Is it the mosquitoes? Is it the absolute lack of electricity during the day? The first day I got here, I asked what food they had and they told me “Semo and egushi” — that’s basically a summary of this place. Semo and egushi. I came here expecting Tuwo da miyan kuka prepared with love and happiness. In plain English, I thought I was coming to some lovely indigenous place with lots of food to explore and a nice place for my head.

I thought I’d be greeted with sights of masa stalls and lovely maidens hawking fura da nono. Instead, I’m getting a cultural imperialism/assimilation fail. Yesterday, I travelled two hours to Yankari and all I saw along the way was dried up rivers, endless rocks and vegetation, watermelon stalls, yam stalls and fair ladies hawking what is apparently bambara nuts and…wait for it, onions. Romanticising is bad for you.

What’s funny is my family used to live here. My mother was a teacher at F.G.G.C. Bauchi and my sisters were born here. Up until Monday, I was the only member of my family who had never been to Bauchi. I called up My Darling (she’s from Gombe, which used to be a part of Bauchi) to complain and she went “Well, what did you expect?” What do you mean what did I expect? My home state has akara and bread stalls, roadside pounded yam joints, and bushmeat/snakes for sale all on the express. I expected things, dammit!

How’d I get here? Six-hour road trip with my mother and an annoying driver. Okay, for real. My mother had some work to do here and I figured I’d come along because I’d never been. Which brings me to this next bit — I’m (not quite) unemployed. I quit my job because I was having too many “there’s got to be more to life than this” moments. Way too many. I was waking up on mornings feeling…empty. Usually I wake up on workdays feeling pumped, optimistic, apprehensive, anxious, or even the usual “I hate weekdays” thing. But it slowly gave way to “What exactly am I doing? Why is it even important?” and “I don’t think this is what I want.” It all got too much and I began to, believe it or not, miss the time when I was broke and unemployed.

I’m telling people I quit because I was unhappy, but I’m not sure that’s the word. The word is probably “unsatisfied.” Quitting wasn’t exactly easy either. I’d been part of this family for a year. Lived with these people, cooked with them, stayed at work till late with them. I moved from my parents’ home to start a “new life” and these people were in the centre of it. But sometimes love is not enough and the road gets rough, I don’t know why. I haven’t been fully let go from the office. Still helping out a bit, but that’s until they find a replacement. Finding good help is so difficult. Dem.

Fourteen grand in my account and no plan. I’m on my Eat Pray Love shit and boy, have I been eating. I had this bad case of Typhoid in February. Bacteria count so high, the doctor had to ask how I’d been living. Gave me a lecture on hand washing too. I probably got infected from all the tap water I drank in Mauritius in January, or all the time I spent e̶a̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶a̶s̶s̶ getting amala from that place near my office. Doesn’t matter. It was a terrible time and I really thought I was going to die. My asthma came back and my blood count was low. Literally the sickest I’ve been in my entire life, and this is coming from someone who suffered fainting spells caused by malaria when she was younger. Obviously, I lost some weight and we know I’m (very) insecure about that. So yeah, I’ve been eating. Three times a day on most days, and healthy too…or as healthy as I can afford. I’m still buying food, because let’s not be ridiculous here. Shout out to Big Daddy Ez for housing me on weekends and feeding me ice cream. I see that thigh gap closing.

One great thing about my Typhoid spell? The meds cured my bladder infection (I’m all about that silver lining). I’d had some UTI/bladder thing since 2014 (probably got it from all the time I spent at my then boyfriend’s) and boy, the antibiotics I took. Ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, nitrofurantoin, fluconazole— all the things that suck you dry, make your tea taste like soap, and in worse cases, make you throw up. I was going through all that cos I didn’t like how my pee smelled. Lol. That was all. My pee smelled weird and I didn’t like it. I don’t know why a part of me thinks it’s silly. Probably because a doctor told me to ignore the smell seeing as there was no pain. But like the woman with the issue of blood, I did not give up hope. My hem of Jesus’ garment turned out to be a two-week dose of amoxicillin. Can you just imagine?

Mauritius was…amazing chicken burgers, potato wedges and beer. In plain English, peaceful, filling and beautiful. I’m honestly not the best person to hear about a new place from. I spent most of my time indoors, watching TV and listening to music. MUR was me eating chocolate and dried apricots, and watching House. There was a lot of walking on the beach and listening to Stromae too. Nothing wild. My life really is some big bowl of tepid water. I don’t know when or how it got that way. I used to be vibrant, “funny,” smart — a ray of sunshine, you know. Sadness.

Lagos was…haha! Hot, spicy, wet, dripping noodles with Cameroon pepper and chicken in a hot room with mosquitoes. In plain English, there were reasons to hate it and there were reasons to love it. My mother asked me to move back home a whole lot, I made great friends (okay, just two), I had great sex, I experienced great loneliness, I found great solace, the rest of it a blur. I really need to work on experiencing moments. My feelings button is broken. If we’re being honest, all of my buttons are broken and I’m tired of pretending I’m fine. But Lagos was okay. I’d do it different, but it was okay. No fireworks. I’m grateful, and not in an “in all things, give thanks” way, but in an honest, genuine “God, I am grateful for everything, because even if my life feels like it’s experiencing a tail spin and I am in zombie mode, you have kept me and you have provided for me and you have met me every step of the way” way.

I want to make fireworks this year. Nothing grand. Just mini ones that stand out and can serve to brighten my dark moments. I’ve been living for people and I want to try this thing where I live for myself. But somehow, I’m scared to listen to her. We’re not particularly the same people. We’re going to do this for her anyway. I have no plan except to maybe (try to) not overthink things. Let’s see how long I can do that for.

I started last year with a broken mirror. This year, it’s in a shitty room with a noisy AC and my mother sleeping next to me.


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