Tuesday, October 11, 2005
The idea was to enjoy Swakopmund, not to use it as a recovery point for a month. When I found myself numb to all but recurring nightmares, I thought that perhaps the way out of it was to jump out of an airplane.
Wearing a parachute, of course.
It’s like that scene in “High Fidelity,” where the girlfriend can feel nothing so she asks the protagonist… well, no, it isn’t really like in “High Fidelity,” but it’s along those lines. I thought that if I could feel fear and exhilaration, that would beat feeling numb.
That was before I looked into the cost.
A tandem skydive in Swakopmund is over US$200. That’s enough to change my ticket from London to Newark (with the additional hundred being needed to change the Entebbe to London leg). I can fly across the Atlantic for 6-7 hours for $200, or I can fly for 15 minutes over Swakopmund. It isn’t even a round-trip!
Still, I made a lot of excuses to myself about why I should do it, the primary one being that I believe in facing my fears and pride myself on doing so.
I was petrified of doing it. Nikki said it was great. Shawn said it was great. The Irish-Australian nurse said I should not miss it.
But the truth is, when I awoke on my last day in Swakopmund and noticed the wind blowing fiercely through the trees, I was relieved. My wallet was too. Skydiving will have to wait. I’d feel exhilarated for a few hours, and then I’d just be kicking myself for having blown so much money on a temporary cure for the blues.
I am catching a bus to Cape Town on Wednesday, Oct. 12, leaving Swakopmund behind for the moment. I had been thinking that I would return after meeting up with Shawn in Cape Town, that Swakopmund deserved more than I had given it, and I had a good flat for a reasonable price. But that was before I met my neighbor.
Mel was a friendly old fellow. He invited me in for coffee and chatted my ear off. He was from LA. He was highly entertaining in spite of repeating himself three times. When I rose to leave, he also stood up, blocking my way to the door. He insisted on hugging me. But he didn’t stop after a brief hug—no, he kept hugging me. Then he started massaging my shoulders. I’m not quite sure how I got out of there without slugging him, but I made it out and scampered back into the safety of my own flat (locking the door behind me).
Was he a dirty old man? Or a nice guy who needed a hug? Or was he a dirty old man who needed a hug? I should give him the benefit of the doubt, but I’m not going to hang around to find out. Where will I go instead? I don’t know. I'm usually the queen of planning, but all I have planned is the next 48 hours, and a Nile whitewater rafting trip some time in November. I have almost no money, a book to write, Donald Duck and Marvel monster comics to color, a discount bus card, and I’m in Africa. We’ll see how it goes.