It was the 26th of December a few days ago. It was supposed to be the highpoint of my December – it was boxing day, innit?
I woke up in high spirits, checked the clock every few seconds until it was time; I had an appointment to keep and I couldn’t let myself be late. So eager was I for this meet that I arrived at the rendezvous thirty minutes before I should have. One hour and fifteen minutes later, my stomach had sunk to my knees; the heaviness I felt in the pit of my stomach could best be described as leaded.
On my way home I kept playing everything I knew, everything that had happened over and over in my head till I gave myself a headache. I got home, turned off my phone and rested my head.
When I woke up, still not feeling like talking to anybody, I turned the music up loud and set about cleaning out my room; I had to keep busy. When I was done cleaning out my room, sweating from exertion and sneezing from dust motes up my nostrils, I stood and surveyed what I had achieved: a plastic bag of bric-a-brac stood in one corner just behind the door, my mattress was pushed against the wall in the opposite direction, the books were gone from the floor and clothes had been taken down from where they hung up on the windows or were strewn all over. I put everything neatly away. I had not seen this much floor space in my room in ages – it looked like a football field to my eyes – and there in the middle of all that orderliness lay a small pile, an assortment of items I did not know what to do with.
I squatted and picked through them, item by item, each one transporting me to a time, a place, a phase of my life different from now.
First, I picked up the brown strip of elastic material, and a wistful smile touched my lips. It used to be a hair band and she used to have three of them.
I remember the day this one came to rest with me. She had been exceptionally silly two days before and I was pissed, to put it mildly, and since the relationship was still in its infancy, I was torn between not rocking the boat and turning the bloody boat upside down. She admitted her actions had put me in a difficult place professionally and she was clearly really sorry, but I was not going to let her off so easy; I let her feel my disappointment for a moment longer. She was distraught; she bit her lips and pulled her hair. Running her fingers through her hair, she came off with the band that held the braids in place. Absent-minded, she twirled it round and round her index finger, testing its elastic limit. When it snapped, she literally jumped a few inches and I saw how easily things could go from mole hill to mountain if one kept pushing. It was also then that I realised I could never stay mad at her for long. I gathered her into an embrace and told her we were cool.
After she left, I took the band and kept it as a reminder. Years have passed and she has moved on, we both have, and still I cannot stay mad at her for too long.
On the 26th though, she really tested this resolve and, though I still can’t stay mad at her, I had to be honest with myself: I could not keep up the charade; something had to change.
Next to this was a pair of gold hoop earrings. These brought a wry smile to my face: they belonged to a colleague who had moved into my neighbourhood a couple of years before. She used to come and visit at my place and we would sit or lie in front of the TV and eat whatever was available. We didn’t talk much, we both just needed the companionship. That was until the night she slept over. We had both gone to sleep lying next to each other, then sometime in the wee hours I had woken up pressed against her. She didn’t seem to mind. She turned to face me and it was then the kissing started. We ran our hand all over each other, tearing at clothes as we went. Her shirt hair and earrings got caught tangled and we stopped long enough to untangle these, laughing as we did, and then the shirt and earrings were gone. Lying there looking at her I knew I could not go through with this. When she reached for her belt, I held both hands in place, gave her a kiss on each cheek. I was going to tell her we had to stop when my phone rang; it was the office and I was getting called out for a flight.
We both left the house, she to her place, me to work. It was not until I returned home that night that I saw she had forgotten her earrings.
She never visited my place again, then she moved from the neighbourhood. I have asked her time and again to come get her earrings, but something always comes up. Maybe I will take them to her someday soon, maybe not
Then there is the novel “Collision” by Michael Dunmore. She had taken it from her father’s library and it was supposed to keep me occupied on my trip back to Lagos from Enugu. It did better; it put me to sleep before I finished the first chapter. This is five years later and I still haven’t made it past chapter one! I should have returned it but somehow I held on to it. Even after we broke up and I returned the Ted Dekker novels she had lent me from her mother’s library, this one book still did not make it back home. Or maybe it is home and I am failing to see that.
In that pile were some items obviously female that I could not account for how they got there: two mismatched bangles, a single pearl earring (costume), page marker and nail file. I suspect some of these may have come from my room mate before she eventually got her own place and moved out.
Roomie, ahh… She almost drove me out of my mind. It wasn’t any of the usual suspects about ‘living’ with a woman that drove me batsy, it was the human hair. Strands and clusters found their way everywhere. I almost blew my top the day I was having lunch and had to pull and pull and pull at something caught in my teeth. Turned out to be a long strand of this hair – and this was food I had prepared myself!
Or the day I almost snapped my neck. I felt something light and feathery against my neck. All the hairs on my neck stood as my mind struggled to process what it could be. My hand wasn’t waiting for the information to be fully processed. The slap to my neck brought tears to my eyes, still it fluttered there again. The second slap was open handed to catch whatever it was. I came off with some strands of human hair. For weeks after she left, I still had strands and clumps coming out of all corners to remind me she was here.
Going from the pile on the floor, I brought down one of my boxes and rifled through its contents: a white t-shirt, a black negligée , a turquoise thong, a cream shirt… All items left by different women. Then there were the letters: on crinkly paper, creased pages, paper browned with age, coloured paper, once perfumed paper all telling different versions of the same truth, of the same lie.
I sighed while wondering what items, if any, I had scattered all over; held on to by different females I had had relations or relationships with. I sighed again and chuckled.
It was the 26th of December and I was wondering what to do with all these items since I did not want them with me in 2012, and then it hit me. Not a yard sale, a bonfire.
January 6th is the Epiphany, any items left unclaimed or unreturned by that date I will set on fire.
True I had held on to them over the course of time (some dating as far back as my 17th birthday) for old times sake and some crap emotional attachment, it was time to severe the ties. They had to go.
PS: 2012 is the year when I will love. I will love myself, I will love what I do, I will love the people I meet – not necessarily in that order.
That is my resolution for 2012; what is yours?
Happy New year.