Tried seeing delectable Ben Frost at Berghain. Realized two songs in still can’t cope with concert volume. Frustration gnaws. Keep trying — never know if/when it’ll get easier. 5 years later, a constant reminder. Berlin’s a quiet city, lovely in that way; suits me. But at konzerts, the sound, in all its glorious vibration, eats me, my insides, expands ’til it feels like I’ll burst if I don’t hear nothing soon. On the whole I guess it’s gotten better, but sometimes it’s like it’s in reverse, getting worse. A low-fi problem, I know. Barely a problem. More that it takes me back, disorients my sense of self, being here, now. Cried a little on the way home. Slept it off, sound still inside, reverberations of past.
“Are you attaching? Of course you are! It’s human nature. You know the drill. Let it go. Loosen the grip — respond, don’t react.”
He doesn’t know how much he helped me with that brief rundown on life lessons 101. In 2 mins flat, over fresh fruit smoothies no less.
What if the apartment doesn’t work out? Let it go. There’ll be another one. Where am I gonna keep my stuff? Let it go. It’s just stuff. Will my body survive without the gentle touch of that special man? Let it go. Touch is everywhere.
Am I attaching?
Of course. Thoughts, actions, feelings, habits, fears, freedoms — everything holds me too close. Dancing amid pragmatism and adolescence; those awkward years between birth and death.
If you’re averse to awkwardness, chances are you’ll be averse to life.
I lay my head down on the start-stop of myself, repeating the uneasy silence within until I hear its pattern. Wound-up energy with no place to breathe.
If not this, then what? Gliding from here to there, unencumbered? Can’t do it; impossible.
No, these untimely-unseemly-downright-uncomfortable asymmetries demand to be embraced. Roughly, warmly, they beg to be sought after — not avoided.
I am not always my best self.
But I still buy my ticket: I still get on the plane.
Whilst still in Kampala, I take boda bodas (motorcycle taxis) most places since the matatus (public van taxis) are challenging for sensitive-eared individuals like myself.
Boda boda drivers range in skill. Some are horrendous, some are pretty okay, some are damn feisty (= good). Kampala city streets are dog-eat-dog, so you better be on the back of someone’s bike who knows what they’re doing. (Note – there are almost no female boda drivers.)
Understandably, finding a trustworthy driver is imperative. Log his number in your phone, call whenever you need to get out and about. I’ve found two I actually feel sort of safe with so far – Jimmy and Godfrey. I’ll never forget their names for the rest of my life… I depend on these boys to navigate me through the treacherous traffic, potholes, the riff-raff, the mishmash.
I sit on the back with my headphones in ears – auditory distraction is necessary to keep my mind off the reality of the road insanity. Sunglasses on. Helmet, check. Foot on rests, one hand on the cool rear metal bar, the other varying between my thigh and the driver’s stomach depending on the terrain. Tap tap, my fingers drum lightly to the song.
We go. It’s sort of intimate, in a removed kind of way.
If my go-to boys are busy, I’m left to my own devices, meaning I do a split-second assessment on every passing boda driver who whizzes by. The routine becomes disheartening pretty quickly, and eventually I tire of standing on the side of the road with dust flying everywhere, battling the “muzungu!” chatter in my ear. Resigning to pick the next one that slows down and doesn’t have cracked mirrors, I cross my dirty fingers.
All this does is make me want to ride on my own again. Too chicken to do it without insurance for the time being.
Photographically, I’m in process of figuring out how to show this feeling of flying through the air on two wheels with an engine in between and you on top with wind shooting past and trees zipping by in your peripheral vision and feeling the control and the power and the risk and the autonomy and the vulnerability all at once. The freedom, the stillness in movement.
Inside the chaos, be still…
I love motorcycles.
Here is my secret. It is very simple. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye.
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le Petit Prince [The Little Prince]
Hold on… to yourself, love, hopes, dreams, compassion, empathy, boundaries, truth, your heart
Let go… of fears, attachment, stories, negativity, unnecessary dust bunnies that linger in the mind
Relish… clouds floating by, with their perfect ephemeral state, perpetual change, and light beauty
Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye. – Helen Keller