February 15, 2004 | Out of AfricaAt what point does one stop counting the days after something significant: the morning after the disaster, two days after that incident, third day after I'm back from traveling? At some invisible dateline, one must stop counting, one can't help but stop counting, for one cannot keep her back to the future.
Increasingly the sexual analogy seems fitting for the trip, even though it began tongue-in-cheek. A sense of "what happened exactly?" hangs over me, I walk hesitatingly, restoring my equilibrium. Do not take the analogy literally, it's an example of something powerful, something violent, something that changes, for a while, the way that you peer from behind your eyeholes. I go through the motions of travel aftermath, letting friends know I'm back in town, getting myself set up to take on projects, washing everything I took with me. And EVERYTHING I took needs washing. I watch the yellow Sahara sand and red Sahel dirt swirl against the white washbasins, with the same ambiguous feeling one washes stained sheets.
To wish to go back right now would be no more than masochism--that suffering makes experiences more life-like, more sexual. I would not be so simple. The reasons for such an attraction? Perhaps it was the earth's barren skin; or the incredible living one scrapes on it, any living thing; or the outstretched, soliticious hands; or perhaps it was just the difference, to be immersed and embraced--I desired it with desperation, yet at times, it was more than anyone can take.
But with time, anything so overwhelming, choking your throat, is swallowed and digested and integrated throughout. Very soon I will stop counting.
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