I was arcane down in Africa

Sunrise in Masai Mara, Kenya, East Africa (Photo credit: Diana RobinsonCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

When it gets to thundering in Sedona, it never seems to let up. That part wasn’t strange. But this was October; monsoon season was usually over by late September, at worst.

She had just arrived–12:30 flight. That’s pretty late, by my midwestern standards. But people can withstand a lot, given a reason.

It had been raining all day. All night. Leaving me stranded, again, at the café. Not stranded exactly: it helps me to think. Besides, in a café, you overhear quiet conversation. I wasn’t going to meet her at this hour—not while the rain went on.

I stopped an old man at the next table, hoping to learn some forgotten truth or hear a snippet of the old songs that no one sings any more. He turned to me and said, “Make haste!” Make haste to where? Maybe he meant it metaphorically.

People are always singing to themselves. If they are not singing aloud, they are singing in their heads. Singing—or maybe it’s a kind of thinking. Thinking! What a thing to do!? The talking screens are right there in front of you!

Some people can’t be figured out, and you shouldn’t try. That was how I thought of her mostly; that was how the old man struck me, as well.

Even so, sometimes you get a feeling about something. You think: “It’s going to take a lot to drag me away from here, away from you.” And so it was that night. Before I could say anything, the old man started asking me about Africa.

How did he know I had been to Africa? Why had I gone there to begin with? It was thousands of kilometres from anywhere I had ever belonged—from any place I had considered home. Yet, there I had found myself that spring and summer, so many years ago.

The old man seemed to expect an existential speech from me; but my time in Africa had been by turns as mundane and wondrous as it would have been had I stayed in Sedona, or gone back to London—or back to Ohio, for that matter.

He listened as intently as if I had been telling him about a trip to Mars.

I had missed trains down in Africa. I had gotten braids down in Africa. I had lain down, down in Africa. I had been taking some time to do the things I never had. And what is life, if you have never missed a train, or tried out a new hairstyle, or slept under the stars of the Serengeti?

In the Australian Outback, the dingoes howl all night. Africa is like that, only different. I had had some sprains down in Africa. I had eaten brains down in Africa. I had feigned death down in Africa! It’s easy to lose your footing when you’re being chased by a giraffe. You get so hungry, you’ll eat anything. You’ll do anything—everything—just to stay alive.

I had listened to Jermaine down in Africa, I had met some swains down in Africa. I had once hydroplaned down in Africa. You get accustomed to convenience, stateside; but you can’t expect to find the latest records when you’re in the middle of the desert. Love? That’s everywhere. So are slippery roads, at least during monsoon season.

Some say it is inhumane down in Africa. Cutting sugarcane is hard work down in Africa. You ride a lot of planes down in Africa. All of this is true, but only to a point. Life is not easywherever you goand most sugarcane is not grown in Africa anyway. How else does anyone move about on such an infinite continent, one so vast that parts of it don’t have roads? You have to fly.

I had missed romaine down in Africa, but that’s why cassavas and yams exist. They say some yams can talk!

I had felt contained down in Africa, restrained down in Africa. It’s a funny way to feel in such a place; but it happens there as much as anywhere.

Sometimes I wonder: if I had remained down in Africa, would I have been sustained down in Africa? Would it have been possible to have been retrained down in Africa?

Stay in a place awhile: the world continues apace. You eat, you sleep, you live, you love, you learn. If you can not do that in Africa, how can you do it anywhere else? That’s some food for you. Not that edible foodthat food you eat? No. That’s some food for thought.

There weren’t any hurricanes to speak of down in Africa, possibly due to the moraines down in Africa. They’re escarpments, really.

Everything seemed germane down in Africa; you felt the pain—the human stain—down in Africa. Some of the Berbers campaigned at least once down in Africa, which caused many to be slain down in Africa.

I felt constrained down in Africa; in those days there was no champagne down in Africa, but you could find plenty of other fermented drinks down in Africa.

Most folks I met turned out to be positively urbane down in Africa; you will find little disdain down in Africa. I met a few Sinn Féin down in Africa, probably whilst they were on holiday down in Africa.

You wanted to keep your vehicles maintained down in Africa, lest you got stuck in the mud on the plains down in Africa. My only misadventure was the time I was arraigned down in Africa, because someone complained down in Africa about my misuse of the terrain down in Africa.

I was almost ordained down in Africa; life was explained down in Africa. I sang many refrains down in Africa; I took the reins down in Africa.

Blood runs through your veins the same down in Africa.

It can be difficult to find a person to talk to these days. When I looked back at him, the old man was still listening. The rain continued.

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