The good thing about being a white person in Rwanda is that no matter how normal you try to be nobody will ever believe you because (being a white person) you are, by definition, crazy. The convenient flip side to this truth is that no matter how crazy you act, you will never be as crazy as they think you are. So you are at liberty to scream and cry in the middle of an intersection, bring dogs on buses, laugh loudly at a funeral, eat raw radishes for lunch or even go racing down a muddy road in pink flip-flops while teaching your dog to jump and fetch the other end of her leash.
[quote]For three hours the rain drenched and bucketed and sheeted and waved in such a wonderful, blessed, maddening torrent.[/quote]
Which is what I just came back from doing.
I had cabin fever. I’d come home at 2:00 in the morning and was woken at 6:30 by someone who shouldn’t have been there but had to come in anyway to start working on the house repairs. So I spent an early hour wandering around aimlessly while he scraped and shuffled and pulled off electric sockets. I slept for another three hours and then woke up to TV images of soldiers dragging dead bodies in Adidas sweatshirts across the pavement. Most mornings I would watch.
This morning, I shoved my nose into a funny book about Japan.
It’s been dusty nasty and dry here, though December is supposed to be filled with rain. Buckets, sheets, waves and torrents. And that’s what came this afternoon. For three hours the rain drenched and bucketed and sheeted and waved in such a wonderful, blessed, maddening torrent.
The dog got wet.
And I got bored. Too much hip-hop background noise from the all-day TV and too much laptop lap heat and chattering company of the roommates and consumption of duty-free chocolate to remind me of the holiday pounds. When I twitched my right arm, my stomach jiggled.
I had to do something.
First it was cold and then it got hot. I changed my clothes three times, really wishing to be naked but not too naked and trying, but failing, to navigate the subtle social rules between friends of different nations regarding nakedness. So I decided to leave the house with the wet dog. And changed my clothes again.
Scene II: Wet dog and still-too-naked girl in flip flops exit gate, entering a world where you can never be crazier than they think you are.
I didn’t mean to run. I meant to comport myself with dignity and solemnity like a good fake-Rwandan. As it was, walking a dog already made me look crazy and, even knowing the futility, I nobly intended to limit the impression.
But I had cabin fever. And wasn’t dressed right. And was sick of the stomach jiggle and laptop lap heat and the wet dog agreed, oh how she agreed and she leapt and I leapt and then we raced, tails wagging, flip flops slapping and mud flying. Children screeched, grown men scattered and one woman (bless her sweet, alternative heart) grinned broadly and chuckled. But wet dog and I hardly noticed.
We had left the muddy road and the clucking chickens and all the people hissing at the dog and were free-flying, no crazier than any other human being and dog stuck in the house and filled with hot December wild rained cabin fever.
And such was another day.
*The Look, Jean Paul Sartre