Persona non grata

Leaving Australia has been a series of expressing “my last…” My last day at work, my last day with my sister, my last day at home, my last improv show, my last motorcycle ride, my last time seeing my friends, my last time seeing my parents, and my last time seeing the twinkling lights of the Great Eastern Highway meandering through the pitch black Darling Scarp.

Hours later, I’m sitting in Hamad International Airport, as bloodless and glitzy as most airports teetering on the edge of the Arab Peninsula. The fossil fuel rich Arab countries also occupy a kind of purgatory, a non-identity based on the waning age of fossil fuels. The chilly sanitary opulence of the airport could be a satire in a J.G. Ballard novel (there is an Armani Store for children), it suggests a kind of mass denial, an entire country sitting out of place and time.

In this borrowed place on borrowed time, having shed my Australian identity in a series of lasts but not yet commencing my Tanzanian firsts, I feel suspended in a spiritual purgatory. I feel the dull roar of what’s next, but crossing in to Arusha is like floating downstream to a waterfall. You cannot see the waterfall, you can only see that the river ends abruptly.

Shortly I’ll be in free fall, plunging in to new “Firsts,” and the river will roll ahead rather than disappear behind.

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