I almost died last semester. You may think I am exaggerating, but my body, mind and memory completely disagree. I wish I could go into detail about why, but for one thing, if you’ve been following my life for the past six years, you probably know the basic reasons already; furthermore, words can’t seem to do anything justice. I have tried and failed to explain what goes on in my head. It’s okay. Let’s leave it. Some things don’t translate.
The over-arching reason I decided to spend a semester in Cape Town is to avoid a repetition of the near-death experience. To break it down further, I moved to Cape Town for two reasons. The first is that this is where my best friend is. Sometimes, he is the only sanity I can hold on to when my world is on fire. He has the power to make me want to tolerate existence just a little while longer. He is my Moon, occasionally the only reflection of light in the midst of the dark night that is my life. When we are separated by continents, not being able to run to him when I literally feel like I cannot breathe is an experience I never want to have to deal with again.
The second reason is that I was/am dead tired of America(ns). This one is a compound problem that I’m not sure I’m currently able to coherently articulate. I suspect the explanation will come out in snippets, in different pieces of writing over the next few years… or over the rest of my life. Suffice it to say, both inside and outside of classrooms (but especially inside) back in California, I was on the verge of screaming at someone nearly every single day.
The sub-reason of the second reason is that I didn’t think the region of the world I was in was doing my experience of my major (Africana Studies) justice. The Americanness of it all was too greatly obscuring the Africanness—which is what I am most interested in—and so I figured one way to attack the problem was to return to the continent. In many ways, I can say, now that I have spent more than a month at the University of Cape Town, that I am being proved right. It’s a bit satisfying. (But don’t think for a second that school has ceased to make me deadass miserable, or that I hate it any less than I ever have. Again, a topic for another post. Hopefully, it will come soon.)
Of course, my anxiety had to make an appearance, for absolutely no reason, on my first night in Cape Town. My best friend picked me up from the airport, and I was absolutely overjoyed to see him for the first time in over half a year. Why wouldn’t I be? I switched countries partially because of him.
We went back to his house and had a sleepover-ish thing, featuring Chinese take-away and a couple of movies. Although we went to bed past midnight, and jetlag did not apply to me in the transition from Ghana to South Africa, I still found myself awake between the hours of 3 and 5 a.m., staring at the ceiling, tossing and turning, failing to convince my fast-beating heart that I was not in a legitimate panic-inducing situation. I felt lost, confused, and angry at myself, possibly for the “stupidity” of my decision to switch countries on no solid grounds. Luckily, this was one of the more irrational attacks, because since then, I have experienced intense joy, worn smiles I thought my face had forgotten how to form, and remembered what overwhelming love feels like when it’s burning in my chest.
(If you are worried, like I am, that my love for my best friend might just kill me, please send help. And sense, so that I leave him. Because he is very stupid, and so am I for loving him. This is not a joke. Thanks in advance.)