Okay guys, we need to have a come to Jesus chat because I've been slacking. I know it. You know it. We all know it. I won't make any promises; we all know how those end. Instead I'll share what I'm working on for my Lagos Living column on the Sauvage. It's a little dark, and more than a little bit whiny, but I like it still. I can't say when it will be up exactly. Let me know what you think?
Saturday – Fall/Autumn 2014
I’m finding myself. That’s the only phrase I have for it. My actions are determined by paradoxes that I cannot reconcile. I want complete isolation. I want time to stop for me. I know that it won’t but that doesn’t stop me from wanting it. At the same time, I tire of my own company.
There’s a Blockparty at Whitespace and I’m going. I don’t need to call and ask who else is. I don’t need to band with a group of acquaintances and friends so that when I get there I’m not alone. Whitespace is so firmly within my scene that it’s unlikely that I’ll ever feel unwelcome there. The creative circle in Lagos is small, and the elitist creative circle is even smaller. There’s no degree of separation that’s worthy of commentary.
Whitespace is a blank sheet of paper for hire. It can be wrangled into whatever shape you desire. I’ve been to pop up shops, and exhibitions there. Each time, the space was different from the last time I was there, but the crowd was the same. It’s for the writers, the fashion designers, the art enthusiasts and the musicians. Whitespace is at the centre of Lagos’ creative renaissance.
Feyi calls me.
“Are you going to the Whitespace block party?”
“Yes. Are you?”
“Yes but I need a ride.”
“I’ll come get you at three thirty.”
She lives in one of the gated pockets of suburbia along the Lekki Expressway. It’s distinctly out of the way, but guaranteed company is always nice. Feyi offers a measure of security that I do not dislike.
The drive to hers is uneventful but for the sweat that streams down my back. The grandfather gifted Mitsubushi Outlander doesn’t have any air-conditioning, and the sun is punitive. This concerns me. I hate being sweaty, but it is what it is. I’m wearing a barely there grandfather collarless all saints shirt, navy blue All Saints trousers, a light blue Hackett belt, and black sandals. I look like myself. I’m not so outlandish that any one thinks me a trendsetter and I’m not so informal that anyone might assume that I have never seen a suit.
We get there at 4:30, and I’m restless. Her company does not keep me from realizing that I am not nearly drunk enough. I make the rounds, saying hello to the people I know, the people I think I know, and the people I’m sure I’ve forgotten. This doesn’t take very long at all. By five I’ve spoken to everyone I care to speak to. My hands are restless. My throat is dry. The solution is at the bar, there’s a bottle of Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey with my name on it.
The improvement to the time I’m having is almost is almost instantaneous. The music is better, and the small talk is fascinating. I use my red cup like a shield. When the conversation dies, I take a sip. As the buzz kicks in my head starts bobbing. I tuck myself in the gap in the hedge and dance there. Between my circle of friends and acquaintances I feel safe, but this sensation doesn’t last long. Some guy and his female friend come up to me giggling.
“He’s been laughing at you all night because you can’t dance. I don’t know why he’s laughing though. He can’t dance either.”
He’s stuttering “No-s” and half saying “I didn’t mean it like thats” in rapid succession. I wonder what I’m supposed to do with this. I’m almost hurt but the wound escapes me. I understand their motives. They want me to include them in my good time, but they don’t know how to go about it. I dance like I know I can’t dance, so they think that telling me that I can’t dance lets them in on the joke. It doesn’t. I would like to fire off clever abuse. The sort that leaves you thinking about what was said days after it was said. Instead, I laugh and leave my gap in the hedge for the centre of my circle. The aim of dancing while drunk isn’t to look good, it’s to feel good.
I leave before the party ends for Stranger’s first anniversary. It’s the more important of the two, and it’s sponsored by Laurent Perrier. I’ve never seen Stranger so full. I’m overwhelmed. The conversations grow dumber and I grow more cynical. I endure pretentious random musings on fashion and art and music that are both random and uncalled for. The champagne stand beckons. I’m standing there nursing a glass I should not be having and P’s a foot away. I didn’t think she’d come. I jolt like someone’s blasted me with lightning. We stand like that, side by side.
“how are you?”
“how are you?”
We stand like that side by side for a few minutes until she leaves. I sulk, because I said too little and felt too much. I sulk because, the grief is one sided. She’s going to go out to some nightclub, and I’m going to go home because as long as I’m out in Lagos, I’ll bump into her, and it’ll hurt.