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But.

So I got an artist grant for photography from the very generous Alexa Rose Foundation in my county. I have been daydreaming about my next body of work: body scarification and mutilation. Long story short: piercings and tattoos. I want to document enthusiasts or victims of body art, body modification, and body scarification. Boise, Idaho pulses with art, both from the city landscape and uniquely for me, the bodyscape. I can't wait.


I am also daydreaming about the camera and lenses this grant is affording me. I'm not buying my ideal-I-have-blown-camera, but it is only because I'm choosing not to, not because I cannot afford it. It is a dream come true.


I'm grateful because I sold my Ethereum and photo equipment I really, really loved to pay for my flight to Amrika, the security deposit for my apartment, the first month's rent, and basic furniture. I'm grateful that my shutter finger will no longer experience phantom pain, that I have another creative outlet (because this writing thing? abeg), that I have come full circle in a short time. I sowed painfully, but now I'm smiling to the bank in a short time.


But.


When I was growing up, sometimes when you did good, like got excellent grades or won a prize, you were celebrated by the family. We would dine out. If not, there is a toast to you after my dad ate. Sometimes. But it stuck, and as an adult, when I wanted to celebrate good news, I'd go out, or take the person/people in question out. Bill's on me.


When I talk to my friends about the effects of the mass exodus happening from Nigeria to the West, there is always a consensus about the godawful isolation. How you are separated from the people you love, and nothing but nearness can bridge the emotional and mental distance. Good luck to you if your love language is physical touch.


When I got this career-changing grant, my people celebrated me with yays and hurrays over the phone. But it felt empty. It wasn't enough. My life has been hard in new ways in the past year, and can't everyone see that this is a big deal?


What I really wanted was to go out. Drink something, eat something, maybe a toast to me and how I'm killing it? Doing the best I have with so little support? Can everybody see how big this is for me? I cried hard when I sold my stuff but, hey, look I get to be a photographer again? A group of artists saw my stuff and thought I was the shit, and they said, here, take more money to do more shit?


I don't have friends here, so I called someone I went to a comedy show (it was racist and sexist and comedy is mostly trash) with in the winter. I don't know that he is my friend like thattttt, but when we talk we talk well. And I made a batch of yaji spice for him and he loved it. I have gone on rides on his motorbike. But still, we are not friends like thattttt.


So I told him about this big thing that happened, and would he like to go get drinks with me? Of course he was elated. Of course, yes. So we went out.


But first, we stopped to pick up something, then we went to his apartment to print something, then somethings (I officially hate 3D printers), then we had cold pizza, and then he had to deflate this and pack that. He was preparing for a long trip he was going on the next day, and to be honest, he did tell me that when I asked him out for drinks.


I just wanted my small world to stop for one hour, to say Ayotola you are doing well, you are okay, you have come this far, you are the shit, I can't wait to see what you will yet create, well done, you are not alone, this creative journey/road not taken is worth it, you will okay, here is a toast to you, here is also the bill for drinks.


After spending an hour or so running errands with him, I asked to leave. I didn't allow him drop/walk me because the cry that I cried was a cry that needed to be cried alone. I then went to a store and spent $136.88 on groceries.


I don't blame him. I blame Buhari. Goodluck. Obasanjo. Shagari. Azikwe. Clifford. Most of all, I blame Lord Lugard. If home wasn't the mouth of a shark, I'd go to Sheraton's buffet with my family and somebody would make a toast to me. Everyone would stop their worlds for a moment, and be about Ayotola.


I took a road trip today. We spent only fifteen minutes at the destination, but I needed the drive. Listened to ISWIS and argued about the Agony Aunt questions, waxed nostalgic about M.I's Chairman album (what in the name of perfection!), Asake's hits, and talked about trains, speed limits, the power imbalance in relationships, and how I'm not a real feminist because I will take care of my man. The best part was I drove back. The new school year is only two weeks in, and my enemies want to spoil my own. I needed to hit 120 on the highway and listen to car music and eat peppered meat and drink caprisun. It was perfect.


Proof:



Shoshone Falls Park, Twin Falls, Idaho

The rock face is stunning.


This smile is genuine. It's been a while.

"Let me take shade under you, says one lover to another." - Emmanuel Iduma, A Stranger's Pose


And the best:



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