Embassies? Consulates? Press Pass? Whaaa??
I am a narrative girl. I make up stories. I say... lets pretend that so-and-so meets so-and-so in a coffee shop and then... Or, let's make believe that some girl meets some guy in the park and then...
I can for sure say that I've never uttered the words, "Can I document my travels as I traipse around Accra to sightsee, and then make my way to Ho to interview people and volunteer?" Nor have I ever asked my doctor if she wouldn't mind if I film myself getting a shot (and oh please god, let them not put me in the paper apron that opens in the front, while they administer my yellow fever vaccination and capture it for eternity on tape). That is all very real. Sure, I was never the type of writer that told far fetched stories. You'd never catch me spinning a tale about a girl meeting a guy in the park, falling in love, and then combining forces to combat rockets shooting out some secret government bacteria. My story would most likely entail my girl and my guy falling in love and then dealing with, oh, I don't know, relationship issues. So, unless those rockets came with a surprise pregnancy, or a cheating boyfriend/girlfriend, it's not really a story I'm likely to tell.
I should say however, that just because my scripts are usually grounded in reality it does not mean that they are real, so now, my days of documenting the actual is throwing me off a bit. My days consist of Joe's voice humming in the background saying things like: 'Julie's freaking out about plane tickets - let's get this on film!' Or 'Julie's freaking out about getting the press pass - let's get this on film!' 'Julie's freaking out - who cares about what! For godsakes get the freaking camera!'
It's all becoming real in a way that I never considered before: the budget, the plane tickets, the program, the interviews, the shots... yellow fever, hepatitis, malaria pills, tetanus, cipro for extreme diarrhea, an epi pen for my shellfish allergy... oh my... and while I've had many of these shots from previous trips or from swimming in the Hudson River (don't ask), hearing the list once again is, well, not a small thing.
Recently, I told my mother that I've been having anxiety dreams about forgetting to take care of something before Joe and I leave. For example, my dream would have me forgetting something like the malaria pills only to then look down at my leg and see a smiling mosquito eating my ankle for lunch. To this, my wise mother asked, "Then why are you doing this?" I thought to myself, can I answer that it's because I'm getting a divorce? Is that a legitimate response? Should I even care if it's not?
From the stories I've heard, when relationships breakdown, most turn to the bottle, maybe have a lot of sex, refuse to leave the house, or bury their head into a huge tub of ice cream. I don't know that I've heard the old tale of the person making their way to Africa. Yet, I think the thought behind it is the same, and certainly I am not any different from anyone else. You see, while I find myself having an anxiety dream about some Ghanian prison, I find that I'm not having a dream about my husband walking out again. The rotation of ideas and thoughts and reasons for his leaving play less often in my head and is slowly being replaced by the trip. I'd be lying if I said that I planned it this way, because I absolutely didn't. I hoped for a distraction sure, but I never imagined how much this trip would consume me. And it's consumption in the best way possible. Now I'm certainly not negating the building blocks of the drunken stupor, or the night of random sex, or the various flavors of a well-churned ice cream - it's just that that wouldn't do it for me. I needed something more lasting, I guess. I needed something that would match the pace of my racing mind.
And I have to tell you... I think I've found it.