Spring is finally here, but I am not as excited as I usually am when it gets this warm. Spring feels like an irresponsible father who abandoned us, like he folded his arms wherever he was chilling and watched as this harsh winter pummeled us day after day, chapping our lips, drying our skin, and leaving us running for the closest warmth. And so even though it feels like spring is here, I don’t trust it. I know that it would soon run off again to that unknown place where it feels young again, where it lives as if it has no responsibilities. The weather app told me that it will not be here for long; that winter, with its chill and dullness, will return by Wednesday morning, dictating our clothing, our movement, and our feelings, like an angry babysitter who hates her job. So I’m bracing myself even as I take in all I can of this spring weather.
Earlier in the day, I drove with the car windows down while running errands. I had Tuface Idibia crooning about his African queen through my speakers. With the soft nostalgic music playing, it felt like I set old memories free to fly as they wish in the refreshing gust of spring breeze that filled the car. Even the streets looked like they too were taking part in this release of old memories, like they were replaying old home videos of a time when I was a teenage girl in America.
The McDonalds on Elden Street was no longer the McDonalds that I never go to. It looked like the McDonalds where I had my first bite of burger in America, and affirmed that I was really in America. My street corner was once again the place where I used to walk to with sleepy eyes by 6:40am every morning to wait for the school bus; the place where I would sometimes chat with Ama, who joined the military immediately after high school and was shipped off to Iraq and later Afghanistan. I used to go to the same African church with her mother and throughout Ama’s time away, she came to church every Sunday looking as if she wore worry as makeup. When Ama finally completed her duty and was honorably discharged from the military, her mother had a big thanksgiving celebration. She cried while giving a testimony in church about how God had specially shielded Ama, enabling her to return unchanged despite the brutal wars.
But to me, Ama was no longer the Ghana girl with beautiful mahogany skin, or the girl who used to carry a purse with her backpack; the girl who boys said had seductive eyes. She was now a woman who told stories of waiting impatiently with other soldiers for that final flight from Kuwait back to America. The youth, vibrancy, and sexiness in her eyes were gone. There are times when i think that she deliberately left them behind as a token to the survivors in Iraq and Afghanistan, who have no America, no family, no job prospects to run to like she did. She no longer smiled that her broad lingering smile that revealed straight teeth and there was a new quickness to everything she did.
When Tuface finished his hit song, I pressed the play button again. The traffic light turned green and I drove past the Burger King that I always walked to after school to buy fries. Sometimes I bought a whooper and milkshake with my fries, but I mostly went there for the fries. I always went at a specific time because I had a bit of a routine when I was in high school – come home, eat lunch, do homework, watch porn, watch one of those useless MTV Cribs, Room Raiders, Next, TRL, or Made type shows, then go to Burger King for my fries fix. I no longer remember the last time I went there. I drove past the fast food chain, relishing all the old memories.
Tuface was now singing about how he would sacrifice his whole life for his African queen. I remembered the Nigerian wedding I am going to later this evening. I now see myself somewhere down the line. I am not sure how old I am, but I see myself singing along with Tuface about my African queen, who is blushing a little shy by all the attention on her. I see us laughing and dancing and eating. I see us carrying wine to each other. She hands me a calabash bowl of palm wine and I hand her a calabash bowl of palm wine. Her family has brought yams and bags of rice and beans for my family, and my family has also brought yams and bags of rice and beans for her family. We are celebrating our traditional wedding.