You’re here! It’s a bit nicer here, right? Welcome to our new home. Again, no shoes on the carpet.
I made a new friend last week. And I met a bunch of people. I know, I’m also surprised. Who knew that I could have more than five friends, right? Now I have six. Kind of. I don’t think my new friend knows that we are now friends but those are irrelevant details. I spent last week at the Storymoja Festival and it was great. If you didn’t attend I honestly will not understand why even if you were to explain. Okay, yeah, some sessions were a bit dull but every gig has sessions that are a bit dull. The secret is to get so excited about the ones that weren’t so that you forget the ones that left you feeling wasted. Or you could spend all your money on the books and food being sold so that when things are a bit slow you could always focus on how poor you will be when the festival is over. Prestige Bookshop and the Magunga Bookstore, I hope you are enjoying my (parents’) hard-earned money.
The amazing thing about attending such events is how you find yourself surrounded by all these people whose work you’ve seen (whether its 5000-word stories or a couple of tweets) and you’re just there trying to be cool about it and not go full-mode fangirl on them. The other amazing thing is that many times, you will fail at this and end up speaking to some of these people, even if you end up sounding like a fool because you can only produce gibberish in the presence of such greatness. This may or may not be based on what actually happened to me. The worst thing is when you want to go talk to these guys and you’re secretly hoping that they are not actually as cool as they make themselves out to be on social media. You know, so that you at least have a chance at being successful in shooting your shot. And then it turns out they are even cooler than that; that they’ve been refraining from unleashing their full awesomeness on Twitter and now you’re there not sure what to do because you were not prepared for this. So you end up looking like an even bigger fool.
The truth is that within half an hour of being there on the first day of the festival I decided that I was going to have no shame about being excited to meet people I had until then only admired from a distance. Because when else will I get to meet them? Up until this festival I have been pretty cool about seeing ‘celebrities’ on the streets. I say it in quotes because most of the people I’m thinking about as I say celebrities would not think of themselves that way. They are writers and actors and singers and fighters and Twitter smartmouths and they, I assume, go about their lives just being themselves but not being fully aware how amazing we think they are. I’ve had a nonchalance regarding them, not willing to let my friend crushes show. Are friend crushes a thing? I feel like they should be a thing. Because my God there are people I see on social media whose presence in my life I just lust after. Is it okay if I just message them and ask them to please be my friends because I think they are funny and brilliant and the quality of my life would improve if they would just share some of themselves with me? Will I come off as a creep? Or as though I want to sleep with them? Because I don’t. I just want them to sometimes text me and tell me about their day. I’m a very low-maintenance friend. Will that help my case?
Anyway, I decided that I have every right to be giddy about meeting some of these people. My friends (yes, the original five) know that I am that person who will leave events before they end so that I don’t feel awkward about not being able to talk to people even though I really would like to talk to them. Society was not designed for the socially inept like me, you see. But after seeing these people and hearing them speak, ala? I was over there walking the festival grounds like I built the museum with my bare hands. After Too Early For Birds I spoke to most of the cast and went home feeling like their future Oscars and Emmys will also partly belong to me. When they get cocky after making it big I will be there to remind them that I was there for them when they had nothing. Heh. Now as far as I’m concerned I am in their inner circle. With. No. Shame.
I don’t know where I learnt that it was an admirable thing to hide excitement away as though it is a thing of shame. Why can’t I just be completely mesmerized by something in peace? When did we learn, collectively, to tell people to calm down or shut up about things they are happy about? Me, I have decided that I will not be told. If I want to openly tell someone that their art has blown my mind, I will do that. Even if I look a bit crazy while doing it. God, you should have seen me talking to Dr. Wandia Njoya like a teenage girl who has just met Harry Styles (okay to be fair it’s not just teenage girls who get excited about him). I barely got five sentences out and I had to sit down and take a breath afterwards. But it felt so good. And now, I swear nobody can take that away from me. It’s not ati I’m now best friends with the good lady (although she is more than welcome to be my seventh friend if she’d like). It’s that just speaking to her for the one minute I did was an experience on its own. And I’m now actively seeking experiences like that because I deserve good things.
Meanwhile, my new friend has refused to respond to my texts so I don’t know. William, why do you want to create a rift between us so soon? It’s only been five days! And for those other ones I met and fangirled over without reservation, I shall be in your DMs shortly.