It was 10 in the morning; I was looking for a place to smoke my joint. The cannabis here is different. Brownish stems lead to a collection of 4 to 5 dry buds that still hold on to their seeds. It’s clearly pulled straight from the Earth. This is the type of weed that I encounter most often when travelling and it works so perfectly. The calm, soft high is a perfect lens through which to look at this new world that surrounds me. So anyways, I was looking for a place to smoke. The balcony that overlooked the red clay rooftops was occupied. Paulina was having a smoke and singing quietly to herself. I wandered downstairs to see if I could go into the backyard and smoke in the patio. Nope. The startup was running a meeting with business looking people. I walked out of the front door and that also seemed crowded with the security guy chatting it up with someone. I crossed the driveway into the concrete enclosure. In this enclosure, several lines of rope strung from the side of the garage to the slab fence. All across these lines, damp clothes hung in the sun.
Cynthia was there. She was doing laundry. There was a bucket of clothes in cool soapy water. She picked up my black striped shirt and rubbed the cloth together with her fists to form suds. I sat across from her. Asking her if it was okay for me to smoke, I threw my bag down and plopped a seat in the sun. I liked Cynthia, she was nice to talk to. Leaning against the wall, I lit my joint. It was hard to smoke. The rough and tumble weed was difficult to roll into a joint. I didnt have anything to break it up with and it was too time consuming for me to remove all the seeds and stems. The joint would keep going out in between drags.
As the high crawled up on me, I began to enjoy the moment more and more. Here I was sitting in the African sun, exchanging words with Cynthia in between extended moments of silence. It was the silence that was the loudest. The rolling paper crackled as it burned and the water swooshed around in the bucket. In those moments, my eyes would keep wandering back to her, studying her. She was bent over the bucket, methodically moving the wet clothes into an empty one to the right of her. Her sleeves were rolled up and I could see her forearms as she pulled another shirt of mine out of the bucket and wrung it over the pavement. Her toned muscles flexed under her African skin as she twisted the water out. The water dripped heavily onto the pavement and pooled near her bare feet. She was enjoying standing in the cool water. Her wet toes pushed against the wet cement as she maintained balance over the bucket.
We talked. She asked me if I missed my mom. I told her how much I did. I asked her if she was doing anything for Easter. She told me she would be staying in Nairobi. Most of her family lives in Nairobi now. Her father is the only one who has remained in the village. She said she enjoys the village very much. I asked her why she doesn’t live there. Cynthia laughs. If she lives there, she tells me, she would not have any work. She has a daughter to take care of. She looks up at me and asks if I would come to her village. I couldn’t help but absorb her. I watched her legs. They were toned and thick; there was this tingling feeling that begin to crawl in from my extremities as I thought about her.
I crushed my joint and went inside.