Three plates of spaghetti. The last supper.
I am eating my homesickness before I have even left yet. After five weeks, I am not ready to leave this place, to return to my self-imposed exile in the great-white-north. I am bound to this place, to my homeland, to Africa.
“You’re a pig,” my brother tells me. I snort my agreement because I am too busy shoveling food down the hatch to stop and talk. We smack-talk each other as a sign of affection. If I try now, my voice will shake, then crack so I keep eating so that he will not hear the sound of my heart breaking. Garlic bread is good for broken hearts. It drowns out the awful noise they make.
“I will miss you when you go back to Canada,” my niece tells me. I wash that precious moment down with chocolate cake. If I don’t, it will eat me from the inside out. I will dissolve into nothing but a puddle of remorse for leaving this child behind.
It takes 2.5 days to get to Canada. Instead of crying or acknowledging the dread of it, I eat. I eat cheese and tomato sandwiches (four in 24 hours). The carbohydrate of reality and the fat of denial. Denial is always fat. It slithers down my throat and coats my stomach, begging to be retched back up. I order chips too. I have to order them in Kenya, because no where in the world makes chips like they do in Africa. I hate French Fries. They are not the same thing. Down they go, slip sliding my heartache to the back of beyond. Two whole plates worth.
Next a latte. A bit later, another latte and on the plane I eat everything they put in front of me even though it is as appealing as dog food. White bread and butter. Since when do I eat butter? Never in my life. Now I smother my sadness with it as I smooth it over the pillowy white bread. I ask the flight attendant for more cheese and he obliges without comment at the tears streaming down my bloated face.
I will have to eat forever to blot out this pain. I rove around the airport looking for something else to eclipse my suffering. At long last I go and lie down, curl up like a tank, bursting, my stomach distended as though I am pregnant. Maybe that is why everyone is kind to me: they think the pregnant lady is crying. In Amsterdam airport I sit in the food court. Two pizzas, extra large fries, a caramel milkshake, waffles…..but I am still alone when the food is gone. At the end of eating, it will still be here, sitting like lead in my stomach this weight of homesickness, this loss, this emptiness that fills me up,up,up.