Home In A Sentence

There isn’t really a beginning to my relationship with this unchanging place; what began as an escape from years and years of everything has become somewhere I’d be happy to leave my heart for a long time. And now that the dust is so ingrained in my skin, it’s difficult to think back to my first impressions of this country over two years ago. I remember walking off the plane, hit by the close heat and a satisfying fear as the last stretches of evening sun stroked my expressionless face. Crossing the police-lined tarmac to collect the other parts of me I’d dared to bring in a suitcase, it felt like I was walking towards another world; whatever I was running away from was dead and gone the second an unsmiling customs officer stamped my passport into Africa. I remember feeling nothing before, and I remember feeling everything after.

Driving with open windows through Agadir at night was an assault on the senses; back then it was strange and wonderful and breathing in through your nose wasn’t all that advisable but now it’s reassuring, familiar, and still quite a lot wonderful; it smells like the road that leads to home. Every time I return, the lights on the hills reach my eyes sooner, the traffic subsides faster and I can hear my heart beating on a downhill as we curve around the coastline towards the town and the memories so imprinted on my mind it can sometimes hurt.

Then I step out of the car and there’s sand in my shoes once again, maybe someone is calling out the incomprehensible call to prayer from the sky as I inhale and taste exhaust fumes and fish and the air that is only cool after the sun has sunk down into the ocean. I’m always been incredibly aware of the vast body of water that is the Atlantic, the depths it must reach towards and how it is never the same blue two days in a row. So painfully conscious of time slowing down, the irrelevance of everything I haven’t brought with me and how much lighter I feel after just one night sleeping next to the sea.

As I’ve said there wasn’t really a beginning, and I feel this mostly because even back then it was one of those rare places you sometimes find where it doesn’t matter how little time you’ve spent there, how much of it remains unexplored, you just know that your soul is safe. Your body might be burnt and half-drowned after a day of living, but your soul is so light and untroubled that sometimes you wonder if it’s still there at all.

I remember leaving the first time around, alone at the airport and trying not to think about how I already missed everything. The day before, I’d told you that I wanted to carve myself into the badly-constructed buildings, pour myself into that curved portion of the ocean and become just another unwanted mouthful of saltwater. That filled-with-nothing time had gone a long way to mending me; even if it wasn’t always evident I thought the fact that I returned again less than two months later said most of it.

I think that I might have fallen in actual love with the disorganised collection of people and things and unaffectedness in December. The day when it rained and that night when every single light went out, I think I realised that nothing mattered in the way I’d always supposed it did, and I was able to sink into a kind of beautiful disengagement. It wasn’t that I stopped noticing things or cared about people any less, because it was the complete opposite. By taking a step back from my own exhausted heart, life became a hell of a lot more coherent. Outside, the temperatures meant that you couldn’t keep people close in the same way, and this resulted in a strange, enticing kind of freedom.

Ten days later, leaving for the second time was completely different. I didn’t mind whether the taxi crashed into a camel or if the plane went down, I didn’t mind if I climbed every single mountain on this Earth or if I didn’t, and it didn’t matter if I never figured out what I thought I should be doing with my infinite yet measured life because even getting to wake up every morning left me in awe of everything, and the world was fast becoming suffocatingly magical.

Between that transparent December and the February when I returned for the third time over a year later, life changed beyond recognition once again, and I changed along with it. But when someone offers you a great expanse of time living in a place where you know you’d left most of your mind and body, you say yes, get on another plane, and go home by leaving. Hours go by like sips of water and then without looking up, a year has disappeared into the dry air and you’ve drunk your way through an entire bottle.

At the time, I really believed it was meant to be some kind of permanent ending, but change doesn’t leave me alone very often and now it looks like I’ll be going back to the desert winds and the rest of this story that I still haven’t even begun to translate.

As life continues blindly onwards, people seem more and more questionable and I understand less than ever before but that’s mostly fine, because I still believe that there’s no such thing as insignificant and the world has become a thing of wild, intoxicating wizardry to me.

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