Lagos life is becoming reminiscent of my old London life; fast-paced, not enough ‘end’ in my week, long journey times to reach nearby destinations, and opportunities to do so much, that I couldn’t even write it all into my diary let alone fit it in.
Rainy season this time around has been like no other I have known, for this time of year. Having returned to Nigeria at the end of August, it seems like not a single week has passed when the skies haven’t darkened, day has somehow turned into night skies, and plans have been set aside due to heavy downpours. Even yesterday, as I traveled to the beach hoping to get some ‘fresh’ sea air into my lungs for a reprieve, we found ourselves amidst a full canvas of rains, leading us to be wetter than if we had simply jumped from the boat and immersed ourselves within the lagoon. Arriving at the beach house, shivering and having the sensation of being a drowned rat, my simple choice was to submerge myself under the pool’s water. Despite it generally giving me an initial chill to the bone upon entry, I found myself warmed and soothed. Better under the water than it crashing down upon me.
There is so much of this place that I love. Yet I am working all hours that I can manage, still I find I am behind in almost every deadline that I face, and thereby of course, I feel like I don’t see much of these loves….
I have more invitations that I can keep up with, even in memory let alone in action, and I have missed some fabulous creative events, that generally make my life here all that richer. I missed the Lagos Photo festival,Lagos Photo festival, the Lagos Fashion week, many operas, meals with friends, dates with potential new relationships, the incredible Art X exhibition, jazz nights, embracing the spectacular Felabration, enjoying the incredible Ake Arts and Book festival held at the newly built Alliance Francaise that is no less than five minutes walk from my house.
I haven’t called my beloved father in so long, I feel I don’t remember the sound of his voice. Promises to call other family members every Sunday have long since been broken. I didn’t leave my house for the mid-term break, aside from multiple doctors’ appointments (four visits over four weeks to finally have it confirmed that I was hosting an amoeba….), catching up with work, study, and simply cleaning my house.
The new additions to my heart and home have been the two (naughtiest in the world) rescue kittens (Fela – boy – and Kuti – girl) who clearly think there is something amiss as they have gone to great extremes in order to get my attention. Breaking curtain rails, eating all of my food from my plate whenever I take a moment to chew down the food I have just placed in my mouth, climbing up a beautiful (large and also very heavy) hand-carved mirror as if it were a tree, only to have it come crashing down upon Kuti, nearly killing her, shattering the glass to every side of my bedroom and showering me in shards of glass whilst I was sleeping in my bed.
My mind is being ultra-stimulated by the studies, by teaching a returning class of simply adorable children, and by regaining my skills and focus in my much-enjoyed darts.
The best friends I had here both departed during the summer and I found myself a little a loss as to who to spend my (minimal) spare time with, or who to share joys, pains and experiences with. So, I joined the Lagos Jet Ski Riders club. Quite simply, the best decision I could have ever done.
Though I have now found myself at the beach no less than three times accompanied by bags and bags of marking, assessment, and research articles to study, critique, and digest, I do at least feel like I have joined a new family. I can now walk in and find myself knowing almost all of the members present there, and I am having the chance to squeeze in a little laughter here and there. I have been able to spend much time giggling over a friend’s (in their own words) “bit of a boo-boo” (gosh did we laugh when we heard him describe the situation as such whilst on the phone to Virgin airways), after he discovered that his upcoming flight, from Lagos to London, has in fact been booked in reverse. Somehow he was to be flying into Lagos rather than leaving it, causing somewhat of a unkempt and ruffled feathers feeling in my friend upon the realisation!
I have managed to attend the Premiere of two good friends’ acting debut within a Nigerian movie (the Herbert Macaulay Affair) whilst later returning home to get back to the books.
I have participated in the ceremony of the death of the late King of Oniru, wherein the new King was welcomed, whilst sitting at the table of a princess, and enjoying the much-adored music played by no less than King Sunny Ade himself. Whilst just a few hours later, rushing to do a significant costume change and attend (again just for what felt like a matter of moments) a Halloween party dressed as a skeleton. A few more surreal hours later, I was then present for the Lagos Kids Marathon, accompanying the young children on the walkathon and then quickly turning my first aid attention to a teenager who had all but passed out from sprinting on what should be a paced long-distance run. He was so discombobulated and cramping, that he could not speak and did not really know where he was. Once he regained composure, he was determined to run to complete the race, upon the promise that I would do so beside him. Three hours sleep and much rushing around, meant that I wasn’t exactly feeling the running wall of my own marathon days….but there you go.
Right now, I am three hours late to a lecture, as the internet has decided to once again fail me, causing me to excuse myself from the live session and consequently have to wait until it completed, in order to now access the recorded version online. Given that the internet continues to be intermittent however (a common feature in my higher-level flat it seems, when the rains are bad), it is 10pm and I have still yet to start.
And what is my point I hear your mind ask? The question as laid out at the start – is life meant as a marathon or a sprint? Right now, I can assuredly say I am far from my pacing, and far from the finish line. But I have most definitely left the starting blocks.
I knew when this academic year started, there would be much I needed to fit in. I am not certainly not complaining for the opportunities abound, and am feeling grateful beyond belief. However, I do feel this marathon might be the longest one yet. And my rest days need to be featuring in the training schedule again, and soon, or I may find myself back out of the race.
Thank God for good friends. My beloved former car-share friend just popped by, and my oh my did she give me the most beautiful, and such needed, hug. It was all I could not to fall down and cry before her.
My Lagos friendships are in fact blossoming and I am facing conflicts and difficult conversations head on, before my anxiety builds up and leads me to imagine stories that are not true. That said, I am becoming labeled as ‘the boring girl who doesn’t know how to have fun’, which feels so fitting and ironic, given how much depth I have just been teaching to my students about the fable, The ant and the grasshopper.
But that is exactly it, you see. Right now, there is no time to sprint. So I allow myself the trust to be the ant, knowing that all the seeds I am sowing right now, are the fruits of my approaching tomorrow. I am teaching better than I have done in such a long time, I feel I have become a much more compassionate and approachable leader, and I come home to what is really feeling like a home, as I have my two shadows in their feline form, never leaving my side, no matter what it is I am doing. In fact, right now I have Fela sitting right beside the laptop fast asleep, and Kuti sat tightly up against my back.
Oh, and in amidst all of this did I mention that I managed to squeeze in that oh so quick and relaxing jaunt of hopping over the oceans for no less than 48 hours spent in the UK, to be sure to surprise my cherished mother, on the day of her 60th birthday celebration? As well as managing a whole of two-hours to at least drop in for a celebration of Oktoberfest, and again another two-hours, to attend the spectacular Dandiya 2019 celebrations involving many of my neighbours?
Ha! Even writing all of this is making me tired. Anyone offering to suspend time for me a little, just so I can take the time to smell the roses, or even just imagine one? Hahah. Im tired, tired, tired. But, I’m going to make this race. I defeated the odds the first time I completed a marathon, and by Jove I am going to do it again. (Sorry Philip, couldn’t resist an olde English phrase, after the boo-boo memories!)
Though preferably before I start to personify this deathly shade of grey in real-life! Thanks for wonderful sunsets appearing amidst the storms and the long working hours, keeping my mind’s eye and my heart’s desire always ahead of me.