This song reminds me of a Lagos I barely remember.
I was likely four or five when my family moved back to Nigeria for a short stint between my parents’ international assignments. My memories are scattered from that time, but of all the feelings and sounds and smells, this song etched into the back of my mind.
The song reminds me of a sand-smelling Lagos, of a large apartment complex where roosters and the neighborhood mosque got you up in the morning, of chasing fireflies and long walks to fetch water. The song reminds me of a neighborhood boy who told me I’m too direct and how, even then, I knew that was a good thing. The song reminds me of block parties and drinking Fanta after Sprite after Fanta from the glass bottle, and walking nervously up the spiraled, windy, outdoor staircase leading to each families’ apartment home. This song reminds me of how much I wanted a relaxer, after having seen an older cousin, my namesake, change her tight curls to loose, wispy hair overnight. This song reminds me of harmattan sunrises. My young eyes gazed into the haze, wondering whether this was the signal my Sunday school teacher talked about when he shouted at us about the end of days.
Lagos was big and brusque, and this song would blare from passing taxi cabs and transistor radios – my four (or five) year old musical backdrop.
So re-connection to this song (thanks Facebook!) is my week’s pick-me-up.
I have to write this because I’m fairly sure my sanity is shattering into a million pieces.
I’m turning 30. 30. 30! I’m turning 30 in a few days. In fact, this week will end and I’ll be 30 and I’ll start Monday morning as a 30 year old. This doesn’t yet mean I’ll be ticking a new age bracket in those online surveys (that will happen in five years), but this does mean I will be formally exiting my 20s. For Pete, Matthew, James and Moses’ sake! YIKES!
My 20s have been a warm blanket. A growing blanket, a 10 year blanket. One that I have learned to appreciate in all its imperfections. My 20s were hot in the spring and comforting in the autumn – annoying when I was expected to share it; clearly something I’m having trouble giving away. Growing pains, man. I can still remember when I was 21, down to exactly who I was. I was in college and constantly uncertain of the space surrounding me. However, I was always present: in class ensuring I was on someone’s honor roll list; at college parties learning how to Dutty Wine ’round all these Jamaicans (thanks Kanye!) and discovering vodka (uh…ew); coasting South Beach with friends who stopped being friends in heels I couldn’t stand in and in dresses I no longer have interest in wearing …yet, constantly wondering whether I actually belonged there. I was there in a body, navigating an environment that was familiar and foreign at the same time. To provide context, like everyone else, this was my first time away from home, and my first time in the United States. I had just began to appreciate the difficulty folks had with pronouncing my name and to realise I was not the only young person out there dealing with juvenile diabetes.
I’m fairly sure I spent my entire first semester terrified of everything.
Twenty-one turned into twenty-five and my blanket had learned to wrap itself around me much tighter, replacing tumultuous fights with a friendlier, more adventurous hold: I moved back to Nigeria for the first time as an adult, learned how to drive the mean streets of Abuja in my beloved Scarlet, discovered more comfortable heels and fashion that spoke more to my sensibility, began to love the fearlessness, acceptance and power of female friends, realised what a dope relationship with a man would be like and what I truly found irreplaceably attractive about men, and learned how to be tactical and appropriately vocal at job and professional spaces.
…and then twenty-five turned into twenty-eight and then twenty-nine et voilà! Decades of work in progress, stupid mistakes, failed relationships, new relationships, harrowing moments of anticipation, immigration, stellar successes, tighter camaraderie with my siblings and parents, discovering the joys of make-up, body oil, and a consistent work out routine has created this beast of a woman. This woman, who in a few quick days will be formally entering her Year of Beyoncé. Whew!
I have always been one for the journey; the destination na jara*, really. I have always been one for balance and growth, despite the journey’s imbalance. I have always been one for celebration, even when my feet are unsteady and my heart still yet races. I want to shout, “onward, young one, you young tender-hearted Superwoman!” But really I’m apprehensive and frankly, scared. I’m giving away my 20s blanket to be suited up with a cape (much like Solange’s wedding attire, I imagine). Will the cape fit? Will it be the colour I like, especially seeing as I don’t really have a favourite colour? Will it comfort me when I need a really good cry? Will it allow me soar more meaningfully than I actually budget out? Will it keep my credit score high and my credit card debt low? Will it attract the kind of attention I need and want and desire? Will it hide my scars, when I need a little more time to lick my wounded ego?
Ugh, so many fucking questions… but lemme tell you about the stillness in my heart as I type this…
It’s been nothing more than a pleasure to inhabit the spaces I do and have. I belong there. I belong here. I’m turning 30 in a few days. And by gawd, let it be great!
na jara = When you’re in Naija (the context to which I am familiar) and you go to the marketplace to price out uncooked rice or beans or garri and whatever and the market lady apportions out your desired quantity. You ask her to add jara, to add something extra on top of what you’ve requested, for free. It builds customer-seller relationship, it builds personal character in your ability to bargain wares… shit, it also ensures that you’re getting your damn money’s worth!
This year, I’m stepping into my Year of Beyoncé. As I age, I’m increasingly becoming convinced that this is the time women – me – find equilibrium, and hit that stride. I’m certain, for instance, that I am no longer growing up, but out (not my waistline…the Devil is a liar!). Hence, the aim is to inject more personal exposure to the world, so…
I’m taking a few trips over the next few weeks… I’m hoping to learn a lil something, observe a lil something more, with the aim of sharing of lil something.
First: wine country!
raindrops fall on my
roof, fill my cup,
and make me whole