I have always through that my desire took shape at Club Z, Seattle, where the erotics of availability trumped the aesthetics of scarcity. Or through my best Korean girlfriend, who explained the distinction between fat and thick, in word and in deed. Or in darkened theaters where questing hands found welcoming flesh.
In memory, desire begins where one finds permission.
If the faces that populate my fantasies begin and end in vowels, I have blamed nostalgia, unable to negotiate the structures of foreclosure that left me unrecognizable.
It is impossible to describe the complex of impossibility that subtended sexual awakening. My prose fractures under the burden of stories that could not.
It took ten years away for me to imagine Kenya as more than no, that’s not possible. It took ten years for the bodies in my fantasies to acquire home-grown names, to smell of imperial leather, Fa, Lifebuoy, rugby, hockey, football, “jai,” funkys’ illicit trips to Riruta, returns from other intimacies.
One writes desire in retrospect.
The beginning of oooooooooh.
To recognize desire as such years after requires one to question the impossibility of that earlier recognizing. To understand—and re-feel—the violence of a palpable, silent no.
One returns to this site of impossibility hoping for softer, tear-soaked ground, ceilings moldy from accumulated lachro-precipitation, hoping that semen-stained sheets and sweat-soaked bodies provide forms of social lubrication.
One returns to this site of impossibility hoping that the casual touch means something, the flirtatious smile is directed toward one, the seductive glance beckons, that one finds traction on the muddy slopes of childhood playgrounds.
One hopes for finger-nail-size spaces under doors, mosquito-size spaces in windows, and even that seems excessive.
I return chasing rumors of rainbow-decorated rooms, Ugandan-themed drag, of young men who take dick seriously and young women who hum in labial folds.
I return to whispers of here at this place and there at that place, to the promise of muddy puddles that offer partial reflections. I return hoping that my US-created scars do not turn into keloids, that Nairobi will pumice my queer-created calluses.
I return hoping for the promise of the not impossible.
I had forgotten about the beauty of Nairobi’s men.
Denim is sexy again, skinny jeans eroticized, fashion there surpassed by quotidian haute couture poses here. Everywhere magazine poses—how Nairobi’s men occupy space.
I am struck, here, by what the ordinariness of blackness permits.
But one gulps for air and, sometimes, gets enough until the next breath.
How does one feel return and is this the same as feeling at home?
Home. Queer. Home.
I have re-discovered sugarcane, lost my taste for mango.
It rains in patches of 50 meters here. We stand a foot apart in different weather zones. To walk on the same road is not to be in the same weather.
Why are you staying away?
Because I can’t breathe.
Yes, they manage.
Home. Queer. Home.
I learned paranoia here and my smile dons a Kevlar vest.