By Mike Muthaka
The year I turned 21 kicked off while I was in Watamu. It was midnight, and I had a cigarette *scissored between my fingers and white sand hugging my feet. I had taken a fresh stab at dating, and I had just finished rereading Looking for Alaska; which is a book about a girl with a million issues written with a lot of wit.
The year basically started with me standing at the centre of lung cancer, erectile dysfunction and two dysfunctional adolescent girls.
And then, on my birthday, the day I turned 21, I was home, nursing a hangover because this girl I chose to date had got me drunk the day before. She knew me too well, this girl, and, I think, that was part of the problem.
See, I always felt transparent around her. She could tell things, like when I was bored and stopped listening to her. She could tell when I was lying, and, for the first time, I didn’t cheat. I never even tried to.
She kept me on my feet, because she was hard to read, and she never really spoke when she was bothered by something. I got relegated to the one that was always asking, “What are you thinking about?”
She was a great sport because she never made me carry her purse, or engage her other friends, or talk about her period. Although, eventually, I found out everything about her period. She taught me how to love.
Needless to say this girl brought out parts of me without my notice. And that she knew how to flatter me in bed really helped things.
She changed me. She listened to me whine when I couldn’t write and she wiped traces of food off my cheeks. And we enjoyed the sex (At least, I think she did). It was always hard to say goodbye after spending time with her. We had fun. And the love was there, doubtless.
We wanted two kids, and a big car, and five dogs, and a house with wooden floors (I sound like such a girl, gosh).
That was the dream.
Soon, I got so taken with this girl that I could think of nothing else. And if I did, she was always twined in there somehow. I wanted to marry her. I wanted to live the dream with her. It was exciting yet scary. I wanted to marry at 21 for chrissakes.
So, even when I’d sit down to write, I’d think, one day this thing is going to build this girl a house. And, slowly, without realizing it my reasons for writing changed.
But, let’s leave the girl here first. We will pick her up somewhere in the narrative later.
I thought about all this when, the following year (this one now), started with me again in Watamu. The old man had decided he had not had enough of the Italians and so we went back. I thought about my life. I had already quit the fags and I stood there stout and sober as a judge. I watched the water come and go at my feet, and, particularly, I loved the fiery sky. When I looked to the ocean, up to where the water disappears into nothingness, I remember asking myself,
“Michael, do you want to write? Is this what you want to do, and you are prepared for it?”
I didn’t know.
I was second guessing myself.
I was aware of the toll it would take on me, but only mildly.
You sat in bed late at night and thought of writing her poetry. You were buying loads of credit so you could have phone calls that stretched till 2am. You randomly sent love emojis when there was nothing to bang on about on Whatsapp. You two went at each other like animals whenever you got the chance. Both of you loved sex. And, most importantly, you had fun. It was love.
Thus begins one of the pieces I drafted for this post here.
When Muindi told me to write a love story, I thought, ah, easy. I brushed it off as a Sunday afternoon piece and went about my day like the sun rose from my shirt. I floated through knowing that the gods were on my side of the bench and I could handle any challenge writing wise. It was one of the good days, smooth sailing I tell you.
Only, when I sat down to work, the words didn’t come
It is now 9pm. The deadline is tomorrow morning, and I have about 900 more words to go. I’ve noticed that I’ve become terribly slow these days, either that or very lazy. You see, I love this thing, I love the joys it brings me and the spring it puts on my step. I love that, these days, I treat it more seriously and I’m more conscious about these sentences. Another day at the office is just as fun as the last.
But you see there are bad days at the office. And those ones are many. Days when, words just don’t come. On those days, I curse and pull out my hair and throw mud at the art.
At the end of the day though, it’s the writing I go back to because it’s all I have. It is home.
So, that night, at the beach, I decided to insert myself wholly in the depths of writing. I told myself, come hell or high water, I was going to make this thing pay, but I was going to do it on my own terms, at my pace. I was going to approach writing with a different mind-set all together. I was going to be patient with it.
Key Notes about that second time on the beach:
1. The girl had just broken up with me
2. I was mad about it
And I was going to forget about the girl.
What happens to the girl, Mike?