I let the couch gasp for air as I finally got off of it to meet Chiara for dinner. She picked me up in her car and we drove down the mountain and back up another one. Chiara has been in Swaziland for 2 years now and we have grown close during my many visits. Tonight we would join her friends at their cottage for dinner before heading out to a party. The cottage was warm with beef stew and the bottles of delicious South African wine just made it warmer. I immediately liked the women but when they brought out chocolate cake for dessert I knew I would marry them.
It was ok that we were roly from food and drink, because we only had to roll a few feet from the cottage to the party. It was Swaziland Art night, Swarty, and bands from South Africa came to perform in the sunken living room of an empty mansion. Every expat within a 100 mile radius heard the siren call of booze and music and packed in. The mansion was meant for Airbnb guests and so it felt like we were children playing in an empty adult house, unchaperoned. Anyone could pop behind the fully stocked bar and pretend to be bartender, making concoctions just like I used to do as a kid in the schoolyard. But this time my drink was made of Jameson instead of mud and fancy berries instead of the leftover ketchup in the fridge.
I felt comfortable. Besides knowing many people from my previous visits, it was so easy to lean back into that swaying feeling that comes from being more than 8,000 miles from home. A feeling of freedom and recklessness and familiarity with the unfamiliar. I love the small talk that happens seamlessly at an expat party but would make me feel like a douche anywhere else.
“Oh I just got in from Johannesburg. You’re headed to Uganda? Nice! Say hi to my cat for me.”
We danced under a disco light (??) to songs that were popular 2 years ago. We played in a sunken bathtub and slid around the kitchen. I ran outside, to a hill on a mountain and called the boy.
“I’m calling you from SWAZILAND. OMG TECHNOLOGY. I MISS YOU. OK GONNA GO BACK AND DANCE NOW.”
I’m happy that I’m here for 2 weeks but excited to go home to my sweet apartment in Harlem. I never once regret not taking the job overseas. I like my happy hour on Thursdays and my bagels on Saturday. But when I get antsy in my cubicle and miss the freedom of distance, I know I’ll be going to Namibia next month, and Ethiopia after that, and then…who knows?