The November lull affects all of us, even Jackson Biko. How does one come out of the little pocket that is ‘waiting for December’? We don’t know and we don’t think he does either.
I was in New Jersey a few weeks ago, holed up in an Airbnb in a city called Bayonne, a 20-minute train ride from New York. I was sharing a house with a strange Latino couple who took to waking up at 2:00am to cook. The first night I heard clanging of utensils, I got out of my room and padded barefoot to the kitchen, gathering my towel around my nakedness. I’m very dark. And I have a bushy beard. Naturally, I startled them. I startled them because they perhaps didn’t know there was another guest who had checked in while they were away.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” the man said holding down an onion he was in the process of slicing on the chopping board. “Did we wake you up?”
“No,” I said with as much sarcasm as I could muster. “I’m only sleep walking.”
I then went into the washroom and peed as loudly as I could to make a point. What point, I don’t know. The street I was staying in was lined with trees of wonderful orange- like leaves that had started falling off the branches in preparation for winter. Nobody swept them away (because Americans were indoors busy watching either the midterm election campaigns or Netflix), so the whole street was a kaleidoscope of oranges and browns. Colour leapt at you like an excited dog. I wanted to scoop the leaves with my palms and drink them.
At night, way after midnight, as I walked back to my Airbnb from the nearby train station, hands thrust deep in my jacket, head bowed against the cold wind, trodding under the streetlights, my shadow bent at the torso like a muppet shredded by a naughty dog, past the porches with flattering American flags and the rows of cars parked along the streets. The wind blew these leaves furiously curling them in the air in a swirling ballet of orange. Winter was coming.
While the trees of New Jersey were getting ready for winter, my body has been reminding me of our own version of winter back here. Our winter is the winter of the festive seasons. A time of merrymaking and drinking, of leaving the house at 2:00pm and coming back at 2:00am. A time of spending half the morning lazing in bed, legs intertwined with a lover’s or the mind curled around a book. I might not have leaves falling off me but my brain is getting smaller. I can feel it shrink. Sometimes when I stir awake at night I can hear a small sound in my head, like a faint squishy sound of my brain reducing its surface area to volume ratio.
This is not surprising as we are getting into a euphoric period of excesses and dumb decisions. A period where I spend carelessly with no regard to reason or sense. As if January with its bills and angst and hangovers will never get here. At this time I stop running or going to the gym and start eating anything and everything. My mind also shrivels a tad. Ideas escape through my ears slowly like steam from a kettle. I have no interest to write. I smell the beach and sunset and sand and a whisky cocktail in a long ball. I hear laughter and clinking of glasses and someone saying, “Let go of my keys you pimp, I can drive.”
This article has been long overdue- it’s a result of this period, this moment. My environment is also changing. I have already started seeing Christmas trees in malls. I heard a jingle the other day in a supermarket. A jingle in November, for chrissake.
I don’t feel like waking up. I want to laze in bed and read a book. I drive slowly to the office. I let my phone ring for a while hoping that the person will change their mind and hang up. I want to leave the office early and go sit in my favourite section of my bar and drink a whisky and chat with a stranger.
I’m shutting down. Join me. But leave your car at home. You pimp.