In this chapter, Dublin and Curran have a long dialogue about Lyle Lovett, Africa, and love.
Haven’t You Fallen in Love Yet?
The two boys walked out onto the balcony looking over campus.
“How’d you find me?” Curran asked.
“I knew you were at Legon. I got a ride into Accra and walked around until I found someone who knew where you lived.”
“Wow. I never thought you’d find me.” Dublin bit his lip. “What’s Togo like?”
“From what I’ve seen of Ghana, it’s a little nicer than Togo. You have an overpass on the highway. We don’t even have pavement. You know, boys hang out on the highway and shovel in potholes with dirt that won’t last a rain. Travel isn’t fun.”
“Have you gotten any rain?”
“Huh-uh. It’s killing me. I didn’t know it just didn’t rain at all for a few months.”
“Joint?” Curran offered.
“Sure. So, I thought you were coming last week.”
“Yeah, I thought so, too. There’s trouble getting a visa, and I don’t know really how to get over there yet.” He reached into a bag.
“Well, there should be a taxi station downtown that goes to Lomé. I think you just have to ask. Have you seen much of Accra?”
“No, I’ve been hanging around the campus mostly. Going to class. There’s a bar here, you know, and locals making food all over the place. I want to get out, though.” He licked the paper and sealed it.
“You got any music?”
“Yeah.” Curran walked over to a little boom box and put in a tape.
“Lyle Lovett. You like it?”
“I don’t know yet.”
“You’ll love it. Listen to it.” They did. “He got his heart broken, you know, and he decides to get a boat and ride a horse around on it. Perfect.”
“He’s going to ride a pony on the boat?”
“Huh. I guess I’d do that too if I got my heart broken.”
“You would now.”
“Well, seriously, what do you think so far?” Dublin asked.
“About Africa?” A nod. “It’s not what I expected. I thought people would be quieter. Maybe more…reverent. I don’t know. There’s a lot more going on here than I thought. I mean, it seems like there’s a lot of food. And people are happy. Have you noticed that? Everybody is smiling all the time. Except old people. They look kind of disappointed in everything around them. They watch me without talking. But I don’t see a lot of them. I guess I like it here. I need to get out more, though. I know there’s a million things to see, and I feel like a month’s already gone by and I haven’t seen much. We’re in Africa, you know? We have to see it. Everything changes, and the Africa we see now won’t be the one we see in twenty years when we come back.”
“You’re coming back?”
“Sure, someday. Aren’t you?”
“I don’t know. I kind of figured I would get done here what I need to get done this time.”
“Haven’t you fallen in love yet?”
“What? With what?”
“With this! With Africa. With the women and the men and the children. With plantains and termites and mosquitoes and clothing with color! Don’t you feel like you could live here forever?”
“No. I don’t know. No.”
“Here.” Curran handed him the joint he’d forgotten to pass until now. Half of it was ash in the air, blown away by the evening wind that had begun to cool.
“Thanks. No, I see what you mean. I’ve had some crazy experiences here. It’s like every day is a story, like a chapter in a book. Some of it is just strange, some of it is just living everyday and the normal things and activities of life, some of it is truly an unforgettable experience. I can see what you’re saying, but I don’t think it has anything to do with loving it. What about the stuff that pisses you off?”
“Oh, hell yeah. I get pissed all the time. But we’re living on a different planet here. It’s amazing; it’s music and it’s drum bam tookie, food and fried banana, sucking sour oranges, color bam and petrol smell and baobab trees in your face, collecting all the wind and throwing it back out at you, rusted cars, kids with guns drinking beer, you know? The way they sing when they talk, the history, slaves, tribes, the shit they cut into their faces. It’s the biggest, prettiest package I’ve ever gotten.” They were both high now.
“Wow. Yeah, I get you. You gotten any letters from home?”
“Actually, yeah, I got a letter today. My girlfriend sent me a letter and a tape she made for me.
“A mix tape?”
“What’s on it?”
“Songs about breaking up.”
“Oh. You think she wants to break up?”
“No. I think she wants me to know that she knows that I think about breaking up.”
“I thought you two were great, always together, in love. Something up?”
“Part of it’s being here and being away from her and not really missing her enough. Part of it started before.” He took a hit. “Part of it’s just thinking I know everything and thinking I want something else.” He blew it out.
“It’s not that complex, is it? You’re either in love or you’re not. If you’re wondering if you’re in love, you’re not. You’re either in love or you just think you are.”
“Haven’t you fallen in love yet?”
“Of course. I’m in love with someone right now.”
“How do you know?”
“You just know. I think about her a lot, even here. I don’t get sick of her.”
“So if you did get sick of her, you wouldn’t be in love?”
“Even if you had really strong feelings for her sometimes?”
“You haven’t been in love.”
“Yes, I have.”
“Then you don’t understand it.”
“I do too. We can build huge structures in love, tall towers of meaning and speculation and feeling and knowing, but it’s all surplus. Sell it to the man in camouflage. You’re either in love or you’re not. Simply, my man. I mean simple.”
“Nope. You don’t know. You’ve thought about love, but you haven’t been in it long enough.”
“How long is your longest relationship?”
Dublin scowled at Curran. “Six weeks.”
“I bet it’ll still be six weeks in six years with an attitude like that.”
“I’m hungry.” Dublin stood up.
“Hey, don’t get mad.”