Dis • em • body | transitive verb \ˌdis-əm-ˈbä-dē\ | Definition of DISEMBODY : to divest of a body, of corporeal existence, or of reality.
Six oysters, one pothole, and two flat wheels later, we killed time by talking about suicide.
This may not be a popular topic after eating a filling meal of sushi, but after the two rear wheels popped we parked and waited for my friend’s mother to pick us up. My friend, Maggie, is going to Berlin for 5 months just as I came back from Kenya after 6 months. Her father took my mother, me, and Maggie to sushi for a simultaneous welcome back and farewell dinner. After eating a westernized sushi pairing of tempura salmon and cream cheese, we sat in the immobile car “near the stupid yoga studio,” as Maggie moaned to her mother.
Maggie talked about the day when she was only one on time at the Frick Museum, because her coworkers’ train announced they experienced “technical difficulties,” which was the code word for cleaning up a suicide.
My mom talked about growing up in Japan where she’d stand at the boarding platform and after a splattering sound she’d see dismembered wrists and hands still wrapped in watches—as if they’re grasping for corporeal time while leaving their bodies behind. We talked about how right before Christmas my brother in Japan had to walk an hour and half home after work when a train stopped mid-commute. Though fluent in Japanese, he did not know what the conductor meant when he said jishin jiko. My mom translated it as “human accident.”
Despite all of this talk of death and winter, I am more aware of my living and the warmth I share with friends and family. It’s as if after spending 6 months near the equator I’m now more aware of my living when I can see my own. I’m more aware of my own skin when it’s pelted by hail. I may have missed a white Christmas this past year, but I feel like it’s all happening now just two months later.
Now that I’m back in the States my stay in Kenya feels like a dream. My memories have the same whispery textures, and I often find myself reflecting on in the morning before my coffee, saying to myself “that really happened.”
In fact, I had a dream the other night where I was commuting back home from a bus stop near our local cafe. I still had my cheap Nokia phone in my hand trying to call my friend, getting frustrated over the fact I ran out of airtime, and Kenya’s signature red dirt still stained my shoes. Yet, here in my room is a suitcase and next to my bed I lie the gifts my Kenyan professors and host-family gave me—a long wooden mask, a black apron with sketches of villagers in white, and a comfortable beige shirt with drawings of drums and the words reading “The African Beat.”
So while the jet-lag and a day-long sleepless flight hasn’t helped me ease out of this transitory state. I’m going to drink some Kenyan coffee—because it’s easier to get it here than over there. I’ll think about the time I motorbiked across the countryside, wondering if it were a dream.