I sound like tubercular Theresa or something. I’m not sure where the hack came from but it appears to have put down roots. Wednesday I was under the weather and stayed home from work- sore throat and sleepiness my constant companions. But after BushDiva squeezed me some orange juice and I got some rest I was pretty good the next day.

Except this cough.

The cough is lingering like an unwanted guest.

It was with me this morning when woke up (after a crappy night’s sleep for a number of reasons) early and again after I went back to bed to emerge a few hours later. It was with me while both roommates seemed to withdraw into what seemed more introspective time.

Chatty as I am, I tried to read cues and stayed to myself most of the morning.

I did my morning papers (the artists’ way), did some laundry, and read most of the morning away. And when I couldn’t fight hunger anymore, I pulled together The Milagro Beanfield War, my Nalgene bottle full of water, and my cough and took a walk to Starbucks.

My usual breakfast (a wedge of something akin to laughing cow processed cheese, a boiled egg, and some bread) in tow, I headed to the County Health Department where a table in front of the building is shaded and catches the breeze from two directions. I think I’ll call it – the reading room.

I perched myself there. An old man followed me over and tried to entice me to pay his tithes in church on Sunday. I firmly declined and then lost myself in the book. Later, a colleague I met on Friday engaged me, haltingly at first, in a questionable conversation about malaria that morphed into one about the Liberian healthcare system and the place of government versus INGOs.

After an hour or so I extracted myself from the conversation and headed toward one of the local markets at the Airstrip. There I met Koma, one of the market women who decided we should be friends and passed a group of kids who pointed out the obvious, “black American” (an observation I appreciate as Fancy was followed by a serenade of “white woman white woman white woman” which sounded more like “whywo whywo whywo” not to mention in South Africa, I was a lekgowa – white person- despite my protestations of the contrary).

Passing the Bangladeshi UNMIL post  all razor wire and screaming generator– an incongruent sight across from what appears to be an incomplete church construction- I received my first wave. Usually the soldiers simply stare as they, or I, walk by. One day on campus, BushDiva got a group of really young looking soldiers to smile as they drove off – one with his finger pushed far into his nose – prompting her to pretend to dig in her nose as well. He laughed and so did his two mates. The closest thing we’ve had to interaction until today. So I took the wave and walked on.

Cooking plans shifted when BushDiva invited me along to a soccer game on campus with Bongo. And while we didn’t watch much –if any – of the professors competing against each other, I people-watched. People are the same all over the world. A gaggle of young women giggled together and tried to distract some of the player as they approached the goal. Young men, wanting to be cool, posed nerdily for a photo while the truly cool guys wandered onto the field oblivious to any notion that they should remain on the sidelines. And of course kids…kids who take a liking to you and want to sit close and whisper things to you as their new best friend.

We followed Bongo home after the game. Sitting in her neat apartment, we talked about life and books. I discovered that I met her brother in the airport in Brussels – the patient man who told us about the Liberia of his childhood and the one he visits periodically now.

And then I received a text message from Emme (who lives across from Bongo) inviting us for dinner. So we wandered over for curried lentils, potato greens (cooked a lot like collards), jasmine rice (a rare treat), and fried plantains. Oh…and Amarula! My girl has Amarula!!! And finished up the night watching bootleg copies of The Boondocks: season 2, that she bought on Girlie Street in Monrovia for less than three dollars.

Timing a little off, BushDiva and I hadn’t thought through our way home. Not allowed to ride the motorcycles, our only transportation home was walking along the dark road that is such a short trek in daylight. Walking at a considerable clip, a swiveling eye behind us and in the bush beside us…occasionally walking into the bush as cars and motorcycles raced by us with no regard to the expanse of road on the other side…we finally saw the lights to our turn off.

“Never again,” we muttered to each other, but for tonight it was our happy ending.

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