In June, I had just finished a four-day training programme in Monrovia, when I realized there was a catch in my throat; I had fallen ill. Haaaay God, I was coming down with a fever. In Monrovia, Liberia.
See, I am educated and all that good stuff but I panicked. I was in Liberia and I caught a fever and I was freaking out. My mum called to check on me and I casually mentioned that I was ill. She prayed for 30 minutes, casting and binding every spirit of Ebola— we had proper mother/daughter time with a side of ignorance and it felt good.
I took the ignorance further and googled “fever in Liberia”, scared myself stiff and kept wondering— Why do I have a fever in Liberia?
The next day, my uterus decided it was time to end my life so I waited for it to kill itself and then hopefully, I’d just die and the pain would go away. It didn’t kill itself, I didn’t die but damn, I had a fever in Liberia and I was freaking out. One day, I will write about being female and burdened with this monthly monster I must entertain.
I’d like to continue my Liberian story. It was a Friday morning and I was to get on a flight back to Nigeria and so I dragged what was left of my fever ridden body to the airport. Before you can proceed to the boarding terminal, your temperature had to be taken and I was burning up. If I was found to be feverish, I would not be allowed to travel. I said a little prayer, I had prayed to Jesus to help reduce my temperature the entire drive to the airport while I doused myself with cold water from a bottle. I passed the temperature test and made it home. However, I couldn’t sit straight while I waited for the airplane, my fever ridden body had gotten too weak, I had to lower myself onto the airport bench— in Liberia.
This wasn’t my first time sleeping on an airport bench and but this time felt nothing like that morning in Nairobi where I had passed the night at a coffee shop with my new Singaporean friend. He had the kindest eyes I had seen on a man and decent command of English, watched Anime and wrote like he had ink from the gods (I had a serious case of writer boner). Around 3am, we ordered Bolognese, we ate, drank coffee and talked about almost everything. We left the coffee shop at 6am and decided to take a nap on an airport bench. This time, I wasn’t weak with fever but with attraction. We didn’t get any sleep, we ended up talking all morning and when I look back, I want to smack myself for not exchanging phone numbers with him.
I cannot tell the story of 2017 in chronological order because life didn’t ask my permission before it happened to me. Life sometimes catches up with you like an unruly market urchin stupidly groping you in the middle of Balogun market.
In 2017, I made a new friend. We went to the beach and meditated, swapped stories about our anxieties and comforted one another. It was a friend ship that survived on conversation and silence, our words were the hugs, the comforting pats on the back and the “I am proud of you” nods we shared. The silence was the bond. I love words and to a large extent, they are enough. This friendship was however, temporary.
At some point, I liked someone, invited him out and kissed him- that was good amongst other random things.
I became friends with W, I love her. she saves me. She has taught me how to understand flirtation. Now I know when I am being flirted with and can respond without looking like I’ve got a seizure.
2017, the teacher.
In 2017, I learnt that I was an ambiverted weirdo and I am incredibly fine with that.
I learnt that I can be happy and sad at the same time, and that joy is not a feeling.
I perfected the art of living on my own terms and enjoying my life in my space.
I stopped feeling guilty about letting go of things that stress me.
I paid attention and learnt to make small talk, now I do it when I am unsure of my interaction with people and I hate it.
It appeared like I made progress fast earlier in the year but at some point, I became burnt out. I was back in doctor K’s office trying to explain the numbness I felt in my heart and the intense despair that seemed to envelope me.
In 2017, I learnt that depression is a journey and that the journey is the destination. I also learned that I didn’t have to be happy the conventional way— I can feel contentment, pain, fear, loss, hope, despair and other emotions, bring myself to a place of hope and acceptance without judging myself weak.
My Instagram feed swears that I’ve had an amazing year — I have. I curated decent moments of my life carefully, sea salt bathing in the Indian ocean in Mombasa, seaside taco eating in Liberia, the view from my hotel in South Africa, Hippo watching in Niger Republic, arts and crafts hunting in Ghana and working out with strangers in Togo. I do not feel sorry for all the places I’ve been, the lives I’ve touched and the love I’ve felt, however temporary.
I didn’t make any plans for the year 2017 because 2016 was a nightmare. I had a decent job that I liked but I felt stagnant and confused and something had to change.
In 2017, everything changed. I met amazing people, kissed a boy I asked out, felt incredibly sad, felt the euphoria of happiness and focused on navigating my path doing the things I love with the people that love me.
2017 was a weird one but it was an absolutely decent year and I am thankful for it.