There is an ex-crush I think a lot about lately.
So many WHAT IFs. We do chat once every year or every two years when she is looking for a building in town and wants direction me.
But let me tell you something. Any time she texts, chats or the rare times she calls, she still makes me feel how she used to make me feel ten years ago. And her voice has a certain girly eagerness, sweet, melodious and can stop you from jumping from the 69th floor of a big building.
She is the one that got away. And sadly, she will never know this. Or if she knew, she will not care. But any time I see her name flash on my phone, I become weaker, my stomach turns into a mess and my mind into a spin. She turns the HCL in my stomach into H20.
Physically, she was the prettiest thing I ever saw. Until recently when I met nanii, who quickly dumped me. She was tall as a model, light skinned (the only light skin exception I have ever made in my life, since I have liked my berries on the extreme dark side).
But it was her sense of humour that I loved most. Kid was bright. I still remember a joke she cracked September 26, 2010. It was a Sunday. You can’t say I never tried my shot. To date, how I shot my shot, remains the bravest thing I ever done in my life. We would spend a whole day talking, and never run out of things to talk. I was in love. I thought she was in love, because honestly, we really cared about each other. Not a joke will pass by before she shared, only to realise I was sending the very joke her way.
I was crazy about her. Our love was never consummated, because she pulled a plug on it, definitely tired about my tales about the Inuit people of Canada, or deep sea fishing. But I used to talk a lot about her and it is not uncommon for my friends to stop mid-way to ask me, boss, Njeri alienda wapi?
The day I saw her holding her son here on FB, I cried the whole night, went to that Rumba joint in downtown Nairobi, ordered a richot that nearly killed me. It was the worst betrayal in my life. That day, I saw cruelty in the face. I knew life doesn’t care. And I became a man, after that. I wished her well, and every day I hope her man never says a rude thing to her, even when she is wrong, and he sprinkles rose petals on the path for her, as he waits for her to come home from work.
But this has not stopped me from thinking about how our life would have turned out. Maybe she would have made me love mukimo. Maybe, we would sit and watch National Geographic, or sci-fi movies she loved, as we ate popcorns way into our 30s, still truly, deeply and madly, in love. Maybe we would have two beautiful kids. Maybe. Fuck maybe.
But life happens.
In a few months, I will leave the Youth Club. I will no longer qualify for youth loans, and young girls will be looking at me as a sponsor.
And the thing with aging, it makes you think about the missed opportunities. Because at my age, few people are where they wanted to be. Most of us thought we will be married with beautiful kids, in good jobs and driving the good car. But the reality is far from the fanciful dreams we had. We wanted to own the world and run it. But the world has run us down.
When I exit the youth club, there will be no time for nostalgia about the lovers who escaped. Though my girl above makes me re-read Gabriel Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, every few months, but I am painfully aware that this stupidity about crushes has an expiry date.
Now, I have to replace the foolish sentimentalism with cold-hearted pragmatism. Because the older you grow, the fewer chances you have to make mistakes. And thus, every breath, every kiss, every lay, every deal, every thing, has to matter. And the thing with age, after 25, the years start a sprint. I honestly, don’t know how the last ten years have gone.
But what is life. I look back 15 years ago, fresh out of high school and remember the dreams I had. Go to the University of Nairobi (I did) To have a newspaper column (I got that), to become a father of a daughter (I did), to get my masters from Germany (I didn’t, but I did squeeze one from the United States, good university, no less), start and run a kickass company (that is where the problems begin.
And this post is as much about failure as it is about success. And friendships.
At college, I met the brightest of friends, smartest and funniest. And we had dreams. And then there was Mukurima X Muriuki. And I have been lucky to have my friends, who are the sources of some of the ideas you read here and I take all the credit.
There were days when all we did was write letters to the editors as we hoped to get into the news room. There were the regulars. Fwamba Nc Fwamba, Elijah Okwena, myself, Mukurima X Muriuki, Boniface Mwalii and many more. And then Mukurima made an effort that we meet and try something. We were riding on a very high and reckless wave of youthful idealism. We thought we would own the world.
But life happened. One day we woke up and Mukurima X Muriuki was in California. I find myself cooling my heels in Central Africa. and my campus gang got caught up in the adulting craze, and we never did much as a collective.
But as fate would have it, I would find myself in America, though I was on the East Coast and Mukurima on the West Coast, he is one friend who called me almost weekly to ensure that America didn’t sink me. Because America as a country can kill you. It nearly did, but thanks to the many Kenyan friends, I survived and lived to tell.
We didn’t accomplish our dreams of the 20s. But maybe, because they were wrong headed and not realistic. But I am happy that it is never too late to keep trying.
We have run a media partnership with Mukurima, who remains the most important diasporan voice, in the Western hemisphere and his insights, often shared in the Kenyan Media are always more than welcome. He has brought to us, those folks doing well in the diaspora for inspiration. And when I have my personal demons, I talk to him and he advises me, and when he feels the advice is not useful, he buys gin and tonic. I always like the latter.
This is an appreciation post to Muks. Because he keeps pushing me to work harder and as I release my book, he has played no small part.
Here is more good news. You guys won’t believe it, but I have rarely, if ever done a coffee date. By the time we came off age, alcohol had taken over my generation. So, most of my dates been in bars.
But the only other coffee date I have gone to in the last three years, turned out to be one of the best. I would tag the girl, but mafisi hapa, bana, hamna tabia, she told me to stop tagging her. I had actually given up on coffee altogether but I changed my mind, after that date, because that girl is a coffee connoisseur, great conversationalist, and while at it, an endless source of knowledge. Date girls who read.
Now, Mukurima bears some good news for coffee lovers.
Muks has come up with the African Coffee Club. It is hard enough to find good and authentic coffee anywhere in the world, let alone the USA. Yet Africa has the best coffee, if you ask me. Living in the West has taught Muks that every problem has a solution that can be commercialised.
So he has created a platform you can buy roasted coffee picked from various African countries and it will be delivered to you anywhere in the world. The handprocessed, shipped to Califronia for processing, and when fresh and crisply processed, they ship it back to your home, depending on your order. The orders take anything between 2 weeks to 6 weeks to make sure your order meets your expectations. You can even subscribe if you don’t want to miss on your coffee.
So, in each cycle, you will receive coffee grown in different parts of Africa, better still with a postcard, giving you a brief history of the place of origin. So, it is a very personal process. And t is affordable too.
So click on the link
PS: Unrelated: I have gone back to coffee dates and will not ever take a girl to club for a date. And yes, I still hope, the crush above will give me one coffee date, before we are 80.