Fatick, Senegal – April 2010
“I’ll be the queen,” Melody said. She pointed at me, “You can be the princess, and Ethan will be the bodyguard.”
I leaned back, enjoying the shaded hut in the Forsythe’s front yard. “I want to be the queen,” I said, lazily stealing a 9-year-old’s dream. “I don’t want to have to move.”
Melody is nicer than me, so she quickly agreed. “Okay, I’ll be your servant!”
This selflessness made me uncomfortable. “No, I mean. You can be a princess. You can sit here with me.”
“No, no, no. I’m your servant. What do you want to drink? Can I get you something to eat?”
“…Well. A Vimto would be nice.” Melody ran inside to satisfy my whim.
Ethan stood nearby with a stick. “Do you want to jump on the trampoline, Miss Trish?” he asked.
It was so hot. “I don’t think queens jump on trampolines,” I said sadly.
Melody returned, carrying a can of Vimto with a straw. “I had the best idea!” she said. “The kingdom is under attack, and you have to get married!” Continue reading
Nearly five years ago, I created this dance video while I was living in Senegal. Today, I am traveling to Tennessee to visit a whole bunch of people who lent their groove thangs to the making of this work of art.
There’s so much I love about this video. There are, of course, my hilarious and beautiful friends awkwardly dancing in restaurants, grocery stores, and on rooftops. There are the “oh no, how do I fill this space?” moments where I single-handedly address the camera. But mostly, I love how so much of my Senegal experience is captured in these tiny moments.
That’s the school room where Liz and I taught English and practiced the Kochibama skit with high school students. That’s the rooftop where we sang hymns until the sun set and I couldn’t see anyone’s faces. Those are the birthday decorations for Liz and Kim’s combined birthday party, hosted in the guest house in Dakar where I once had horrifying food sickness. That’s my tiny bed with the mosquito netting I used regularly after hearing about a lizard snuggling into someone’s pillow. Those are the pictures of friends I brought, assuming I would be paralyzed by home-sickness, only to find a new family in Fatick.
My Fatick family. I shared life with them for five months, and that could have been the end. But I love them, and five years later, I never want to stop hanging out with them.
At a grocery store in Dakar, the Senegalese man bagging my boxes of cereal asked, “Your name?”
“Tricia,” I answered. He stared at me. “Uh, you can pronounce it Tree-see-a.”
“Tree-see-a!” he exclaimed. “My name is Kuba.”
“Kuba? Nice to meet you.”
“I enjoy you,” he said.
“Thanks.” That was weird, I thought, but kind of nice.
“I love you,” Kuba said.
My brain short-circuited, so I fell back on the French phrase I’d been told was good for any situation. “…Ce va?”
Kuba wouldn’t be distracted. “Do you love me?”
“I just met you!” I said. I grabbed my bags and walked as quickly as possible out of the store. Continue reading