My mood at the moment: lustful. I lust for longer days, warmer evenings, summer dresses. I lust for new clothes (I spend hours at the computer, clicking photographs of things I can’t afford). I lust for the glow of inspiration to sparkle into a frenzy of of productivity. And by wanting this so much, I stay stuck (it’s the trickery of Spring).
The city has emptied herself again, tipped the students out, and we see who is left. “The arselickers who stayed,” Philip Larkin called them (called us). But all I can think is that now that they are gone I will go to the Bodleian and get lost amongst the books.
Suddenly Monday nights are blank in a good way, they are quiet again, and as I glide wraithlike down the High street under eleven o’clock darkness there might be no one but me in all the city, no one but me and the lonely kebab vendor, in his cloud of grease and chip smells, no one but me and the lonely kebab vendor and the ghosts crawling over the college walls, frolicking in the gardens while they can.
(The Man gets home late, I hear him undressing and the birds starting to wake simultaneously; he slips into bed beside me while the night is melting into morning, and our window is wide open).
I forget how still Jericho is. On Plantation Road I lean against the curb with my bicycle, so warm I’ve shed even my cardigan, and wait for a few minutes just to feel the sun and the stillness. Later a friend and I sit in the garden with a bottle of strong beer between us, chasing a pool of sunshine to the edge of the grass. It’s like a wilderness this far away from the house, hugging the brambles coming over the fence.
We talk of Africa. I haven’t been to Africa, I almost say, but the truth is that I have. I forget that I have; the Africa I’ve been to is smoky, spicy, sultry in the way I imagine the Middle East to be (but how would I know?). Not the Africa I used to dream about. But then, we all have different Africas, maybe; and I think about how complicated our relationship with place is, anyway, how much love and experience it takes to get to the root of it.
Later I meet the Man for a drink; we should go back to Fés soon, he says, apropos of nothing, nothing but the strange exhilaration which has overtaken everyone now that the weather is turning warm again. Is it really only the warmth, the clarity of light, that makes us believe in the glory of the future, the adventure of a summer, again?
Funny, I think.