I have been where I am now before. Not long ago. Twice.
The smell of boxes is familiar and the sound of the hiss and strip of tape as those boxes are sealed is a noise that conjures recent memory. This is the third time in 13 months. Third time lucky. That’s what I say. We have covered thousands of miles in huge trans Africa moves. Now comes another.
We flew north. Collected the car. And drove south. Five days we zigzagged across Tanzania and into Zambia and we battled our way through the knotted mess that is Tunduma border, a flybitten, dustblown place where the trucks tail back five miles. A week it takes us, they told me, to pass through. It took us, with nothing on board but ourselves and our sandwiches, an hour and a half and two fixers.
Tomorrow, or the next day, we’ll turn around and head north again. Back through the flybitten, dustblown, heat sapped Hades that is the border, this time there’ll be more on board. And we’ll go further. Into Kenya, with the dogs, the cat. They are anxious and hunker nervously near me. The scent of boxes, the hiss and strip of tape, it all unsettles them. Do they remember what comes next I wonder. So often over the past year and through these moves, it has just been me and them. And so they follow me from room to room. Waiting patiently whilst I bath, watching whilst I swim, sleeping at my feet as I work and retiring to the bedroom when I do, arranging themselves in habitual patterns: Pili on the rug beside my bed, Scal curled a few feet away, the cat spooned into whichever warm crevice she can find around my sleeping body.