“Everything we feel is made of Time. All the beauties of life are shaped by it.”
– Peter Shaffer
Bed: the place from whence I tend to write; perhaps not coincidentally the safe haven for dreaming. I’ve (thankfully) slept in many of them this year, rarely my own, including this gilt glory at Hotel Nord Pinus in Tangier, a city where time stood still for me.
Waking up in Tangier at Hotel Nord Pinus
I say thankfully because, believe it or not, there were more than a few nights last year when I was not certain where I would be laying my head. Some of the beds were couches. Others were filled with air with no space in the room beyond their perimeter. Then there was the bed at The Farmhouse Inn in California that I was informed Emma Stone has slept in the night before and the austere opulence of the canopy bed draped in bright white cotton in the Yasmina suite of Dar Roumana in Fez. Oh and the bed that overlooked the fjords of Chilean Patagonia, facing a ceiling-to-wall window where I watched the interregnum between night and day play out from behind a thin curtain. No matter how practical or whimsical the bed, each always they gave me a place to dream.
The Yasmina suite in Dar Roumana, Fez (April 2016)
As the changing of the Gregorian guard is upon us, I’ve been taking stock of last year’s triumphs and trials, the dreams that came and the dreams deferred alike, in an effort to remind myself that this living thing is a tight-rope walk as thrilling as it is terrifying, especially as we are trying to live out our dreams and being thrown by the turning gyre.
Laughing and lending a hand Ksar Char Bagh, Marrakech (April 2016)
2016 was a beatific melee. I stood at the “far end of the world”, and returned to some of the lands I’ve always loved. I discovered a theme: my affinity for old port cites (Tangier, Valparaiso: the enchantment is ineffable. Perhaps it’s the feeling of passage, exchange, and the breath of the ocean). I found out Jamaica is Ghana (with Demerara sugar sprinkled on the coconut flesh) (and Chile too :)). I stood at Pablo Neruda’s desk, the site from which words that lit up most of my 20s were fashioned from fire. I’ve known first hand what it means to be homeless (but, somehow, always with a roof over my head); I’ve known what it means to call many places (and hearts) home. I’ve had creative impulses that could only be described as divine; I’ve felt as creatively arid as the desert which I love. I’ve locked myself in bathrooms and wept; I’ve stared in awe at a glacier, drinking a glass of whiskey diluted by a shard of that glacier. A man I once thought to be the love of my life married the love of his life and I felt nothing but boundless joy for their union (and perhaps a fleeting concern as to whether I’d ever love that way again). I’ve continued to learn that paths may diverge with even the friends we hold most dear; I have learnt that the convergence of new kindred paths over french toast in some brunch corner draped in velvet curtains in Williamsburg cannot be stopped; I came to understand that as Ghanaians even the family we haven’t met are still family as we laid Auntie Lydia to rest in beautiful solidarity. We all
lost Prince; my Ghanaian/German/Kurdish niece Céleste was unleashed upon the world in all of her doe-eyed perfection. I explored Japanese Wabi-Sabi
; as always, the Polish poets lit my way. I’ve reviewed Michelin stared restaurants; I met Cedric Grolet
and talked pâte sucrée with him; I’ve found my 80-year-old uncle makes the best groundnut soup. I was re-reading a book about omens with a protagonist named Santiago and the next week I found myself invited to Santiago. I am still lactose intolerant. My father and I still barely speak. I gave in to emojis; I kept the faith on the conscientious use of exclamation marks 💃🏿
A view from the bed overlooking the fjords at The Singular, Patagonia (November 2016)
I moved out of the apartment I called home for 8 years in 5 days so dramatic and magical, you might not believe me if I recounted them to you. (But I will tell it to you one day anyway). I broke down the bed in which I slept for some 8 odd years, tied it to the top of my friend’s car, and sold it for pennies on the dollar to an international student who was just now making a home of the city from which I was fleeing. Sometimes life is this beautiful chiasmus and all we can do let that inspire us.
I finally moved to the city that was always a dream, always felt like destiny and have been hit with harsh reality. But who says these two do not go hand in hand?
I found the true meaning of grace. (And the true weight of a Kitchen Aid mixer when you have to tote it about the city).
Everything about the Pacha suite at Fez’s Jardins de Biehn is a dream (April 2016)
Being in my corner this year means I was probably your neediest friend/ most annoying cousin/ collaborator most prone to disappearing into the depths of depression. Yet in all of this, I learnt that I must experience the joy of having achieved the dreams of my future now. As I toted my suitcase to the next couch or bed, their wheels were turned by feeling the ecstasy of future “success” now, by the conviction that success is indeed waking up and trying, that happiness is the goal and as long as I could find happiness that day, I was succeeding. Feeling tomorrow’s joy today obliterates the linearity of time and draws us closer to our desires as we seek what is seeking us. Perhaps this Polyanna view of life is nothing but the kool-aid that keeps us from dying from the thirst of living. Whatever it takes, I say.
For yesterday is but a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision;
But today, well lived, makes every yesterday
a dream of happiness,
And every tomorrow a vision of hope
Midnight snack in bed at The Farmhouse Inn (October 2016)
Still, it was a task most arduous at times, to put fingers to keyboard and share with you a subsection of my thoughts and a passions. It is for this reason– nay, excuse (for let us call a spade a spade)– that I have yet to share the stories and photos of many of 2016’s beds and dreamscapes with you. The journeys to Patagonia and northern Morocco and Barcelona and Paris and Jamaica and the wonder they inspired, the trips to the opera that led to musings on La Vie Boheme in New York City: social media being more of diary for me now than ever, those thoughts and images were entrusted to those performance spaces but have yet to be reincarnated here. But they will be. They will be.
Farmhouse chic at The Farmhouse Inn (October 2016)
Thank you for sticking through the “slings and arrows” of 2016 with me and for celebrating the little victories with me in turn. If you are reading this, my hope for you is that 2017 spells the manifestation of much of your desire. But above all, may the resilience to stick through another hurtle around the sun, no matter what daggers the ride may throw at you, abound.
Sure, this whole “new year” thing is a somewhat arbitrary temporal demarcation, but, in the words of the incomparable Peter Shaffer (whom we lost to 2016 and whose gorgeous Amadeus I spent one of the last nights of the year rewatching with my octogenarian uncle): “Everything we feel is made of Time. All the beauties of life are shaped by it.” Happy New Year. Don’t sleep on your dreams.
Writing out dreams at Mandarin Oriental Barcelona (April 2016)