February 6, 2019
Providence, Rhode Island
I had class at 9:30 a.m., and per the professor’s email reminder the night before that class did not start at 9:35 a.m., but 9:30 a.m., I knew I had to make it on time. I was the person who had arrived at 9:35 a.m. the week before. It was before 8 a.m. so I had a little time: I flipped through my phone, head on my pillow, scrolling through Twitter on my newly-made private account, where I only followed about 10 people. I was fixated on some online drama from the night before about somebody called Liam Something. I did not know who he was, but he was a fucking asshole for saying what he said.
I realized it was time to get up. I turned off my space heater and turned on the kettle. I drank some hot tea for my awfully sore throat and packed my lunch. I tried on a grey mid-length skirt I’d ordered from one of those Facebook-advertisement-heavy websites we are advised might be scams. It did not fit quite right (everything else I got from them was perfect though!). So I swapped out the skirt for a flouncy, bright yellow skirt. I wore some sheer black tights underneath and some black wedge boots. I felt sexy. Grad school does not usually make one feel sexy, but I like to do what I can.
Class was more engaging than usual, meaning I agreed more with Clifford Geertz than I intended to, but I was strangely glad because I felt as though I was finally learning how to understand anthropologists, perhaps even anthropology? Was this what being disciplined felt like? During class, I drank water from a friend’s bottle and then another friend drank water from my bottle. Lips on lips. I liked that we were intimate like that. I wondered if two Americans would have done the same thing. We had only known each other for a few months.
After class I got a frustrating email; it said I could not take a particular class I wanted to take. I was exasperated, and ranted to my friends. I cried a little bit, and they were kind and sympathetic to this minor glitch that felt like something much bigger. The drama of graduate school departments! After wiping my tears, I ate my lunch – the last bits of the jollof and chicken stew I made two weeks ago. I started to read The Poetics of Relations by Édouard Glissant for my class tomorrow. The abyss stayed with me. After lunch, I left for my appointment at the student health center. My sore throat had been killing me and I was ready to seek some help. At the clinic, I was tested for strep and cleared, given some salt water for the throat, and some medicine for acid reflux, which I had been suffering from for a couple of weeks. The two nurses I saw both asked where I was from; they said “Ghana!” with the loud, familiar exclamation in their voice.
Afterwards, I went to an event about Biafra. I cringed the entire time because there were several pictures of sick, and dying and naked Biafran babies on poorly made PowerPoint slides. The Professor was old. He was esteemed. He found himself in Biafra at the time because he was trying to avoid some war. I did not know which. He talked a lot about planes. Planes. The kinds of planes they flew. The planes fell into the abyss of my hurt. The last slide of his presentation had a picture of much younger him carrying another naked baby. I snorted in disgust. I was in pain.
After the talk, I went to get some wine and food at the “reception,” and then I went to salsa. It was my first time, and my nervousness dissipated when I saw how freely the teacher moved. At salsa, I felt sexy in my wedge boots. I danced and swung my arms, left and right, side by side. I remembered how much I liked dancing. I hugged my friends and walked back home, a 20-minute walk, jacket open to embrace the cold, bopping to Abena by King Promise, in my black suede wedge boots.