It was past midnight when we left the dinner party on Saturday. The first quarter moon was a magnificent amber, looming above Runda's corruption-y new mansions like a talisman. It seemed appropriate. I needed some sort of indication as we drove away that night, I needed a sign. Four hours earlier, C & S had made their announcement: she got the job in the US, they're leaving in a month.
But we all just got here, I wanted to say, knowing better. To live here as we do---as diplomats, aid workers and journalists---is to hover for years in a sort of liminal state, never fully committing, never quite investing: a balancing act of heightened appreciation and detachment. It is marvelous, and it is fleeting. It is endless, and then it is over. Every day I look back on my life here with nostalgia---and yet I'm still here! And so, as M. drove home, as I nodded under the amber moon, I let the last seven years with C and then S unfold behind me.
But it wasn't the discussions over the little martinis at The Algonquin Club before C. left New York that I thought of; it wasn't the goodbye party in SoHo with the snow falling outside. It wasn't the excellent advice when I first arrived, or the generous connections, or the trips to Rwanda, Congo, Uganda that I thought of. It wasn't the nightly after-dinner walk home breathing in the sweet fire Kenya smell. It wasn't the love affairs we each once endured; it wasn't the Range Rover like an elephant through the bush; it wasn't the knowing look he gave me after 9/11 that anger and drama would not reverse the course of events. It wasn't the Last Great Party---the army tank in the back yard, the fires burning, the Kenyan dancers doing flips, the drugs, the dancing, the dawn as sudden as a shocking piece of news. Or the years since all that, the settling down years, the family and work and meet-when-you-can years.
It was the luminous way the winged termites used to fill the lighted front porch through the vines that I thought of. The frenzy, the commotion, the beauty and eeriness of it---and how a moment later they were gone, like it had never happened.