I’M TRYING TO GATHER MY THOUGHTS, JUST ENOUGH SO I CAN WRITE THIS. IT’S HARD; I’M THINKING A THOUSAND THINGS. WHERE TO START, WHAT TO TELL, WHAT TO LEAVE OUT? IT’S ALL SO PRECIOUS.
I’d applied twice before. Each time, I knew, immediately I sent off the mail, I knew I wasn’t going to get in. But this year…
June 9, 20:40
The email comes, but I don’t see it until four, five hours later. It’s a day early, so my initial reaction is disbelief, then wariness. Is someone pranking me? (But it’s signed with her name!) Why would anyone prank me like this? Of course I screenshot it and send it to all my friends, but it isn’t until the list comes out and I see my name on it -number three- that I fully believe it.
The next days are a blur. I spend my days in a TV-induced semi stupor, and my nights on the internet, doing intense ‘research’. I read possibly every single review on the workshop ever written, I google the words ‘farafina’, ‘chimamanda’, ‘workshop’ cons tantly, I look at pictures, I read tweets, I look for videos (there are very few to be found). I am coming apart at the seams. I google all the names on the list (I tell myself over and over, it’s not weird). Finally, I break down and text a friend: is it weird?
It rains heavily, all morning. I am too nervous to eat, my throat is closing up, I speak as little as possible. ‘Make friends o!’ my mother yells as the taxi pulls away. I expected traffic, but there’s none. Still, the drive is long, and I fall asleep. My sister is in the backseat, chattering nonstop on the phone. She prods me awake when we get to the bridge and we stare up at it through the car windows. It’s formidable during the day, utterly beautiful at night. The hotel is quiet. A cold lobby, a loud television and a smiling receptionist meet us when we enter. I get my room key, no fuss (for some reason, I expected a long drawn out argument at the front desk, possibly some tears and my having to call Okey). After unpacking my things, fiddling with everything in the room and taking pictures, my sister leaves, and I realize how hungry I am. I text a few friends and their replies are eerily similar: ‘go and find something to eat now’, ‘go downstairs, I’m sure you’ll get something’ etcetera. Ignore, ignore. I fall asleep feeling a multitude of things, but mostly, hungry.