Just re-read a comment from one Daniel Ellis Mathews, and he makes a fair point–for all my calling once a week, Instagram stalking, dedicated advice giving (both wanted and unwanted), and long distance nagging, I have not actually dedicated any cyberspace to the two most important people in my life. Considering that, this post is for those two goons I call my best friends and my siblings.
When we were little, we used to love the hammock at Gram’s house. No matter who was in it, no matter how much the sun shone in our faces, we were there. I remember seeking out Pa in the back yard and “rocking” him until he relinquished the swing to us. He would let us clamor in and go find himself a gin and tonic to recover from our showers of affection. All three of us could fit snuggly in the soft rope swing and rock for hours, getting sugar drunk on Martinelli’s Apple Cider. After a few hours of cheap thrills, we would wonder where our Grandpa had gone and wander off to find him. He would see his hammock finally vacant and sneak back. We would give up looking and find him in the hammock and repeat the process. Que an infinite loop of cider and gin.
If I’m honest, not much has changed over the years. Pa died 5 years ago, but the first thing we still do on arrival at Gram’s house is race to see who gets to nap in the hammock by the pool. We can’t all fit anymore, so we have to take turns (like grownups). The losers are in charge of fetching gin and tonics for the hammock napper. We rotate turns throughout the afternoon until it’s too cold to be outside and we all go play cards in the Barn. Tough life.
Eventually our love of hammocks extended beyond our Grandparent’s house. The only piece of furniture I actually bought for my college apartment was a hammock–the rest I inherited from neighbors or retrieved form the street. My hammock is now my brother’s hammock back home–Dan has it hung out on the patio, where Audrey and Enzo the cat steal naps. I used to come home to find either of them napping the day away with Enzo along for the ride. Obviously I would fetch them whatever they wanted. Call it Hammock Karma–I knew they would do the same for me (if only out of guilt) at a later date.
Some days Gram’s house, the hammock, and my gin and tonic toting siblings seem further away than others. Other days I barely miss them at all. But everyday I think about them, after all we do share a brain, if not a hammock anymore.
Considering all this, you can imagine my happiness when I found what I thought was a sea green fishnet shirt rolled up in one of the corners of the Techiman house. Upon further inspection, and some eye rolling from Jason, it turned out to be an old hammock long forgotten and in need of repair. So obviously we tried setting it up right when we found it, in the middle of the night, tears and all, with little success. Dave (our boss) came out to find Jason on the ground calling dibs on what was still a pile of limp rope and me laughing on the porch refusing to help until I got a turn. Old habits die hard.
By by day three of hammock ownership, things had somehow improved. Not only was the hammock finally working, we were even taking turns and fetching beer like civilized people should. Despite the air of outward civility, I was just biding my time until I had the house (and the hammock) to myself. Cuz let’s face it, sharing is for suckers.
As soon as they left I got the hammock out and climbed in for a nice nap in the shade with a good book. I had just gotten settled when I realized that my cup of tea was sitting on the porch, within eye sight but completely out of reach. There was no one to fetch it for me, and I didn’t want to get up. But what is the point of a lazy Sunday in a hammock without tea? It would have been fine except I could see it there, taunting me.
Weighing my conundrum, I finally unsettled myself and got the stupid cup. Of course as soon as I sat back down I realized I needed a pillow…then my sunglasses…then a blanket…and maybe some music…and so the next hour went until I finally had the PERFECT hammock setup. At which time Blessing decided I looked too comfortable and joined me for a nap.
I only kicked her out when she started drooling on my last clean pair of pants. I draw the line at having to do laundry. No child is cute enough to merit that. No sooner had I tossed Blessing out than Fred came over to check out what I was doing. Before I could say “I’m reading quietly and not talking to anyone” (which of course I still can’t say in Twi) he had climbed into the hammock to show me how his reading was coming along. He started reading what I was reading, and quickly got bored with Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles. Then he sounded out “genocide” all on his own. No I did not explain that one to him.
Fred bounced off, bored of reading about the history of Sudan, and I settled in for some peace and quiet. No dice. Erik, the father next door came out to wash shoes and talk about Obama. Mavis stopped by to borrow a hanger. Mama Grace came over for more Aloe for her Chicken Pox. Immanuel dropped by to invite me to church next week. Andy came to borrow a bike to fetch water. I tried escaping to the house under the pretense of making lunch. Blessing came in and started sweeping. I retreated to the hammock and she followed and started rocking me, you know, to be helpful. There was no escape. Pa was definitely laughing at me from Heaven, pouring another G&T, and saying “How you like them apples?”
Lesson of the Day: no matter how hard you try, hammocks are meant to be shared. More than that: you can never be alone in Ghana. What surprises me is that no one else seems bugged by this. Everyone knows everything about each other, everyone is somehow related, and everyone is constantly visiting, greeting, and asking each other for things at all hours of the day or night. Being alone doesn’t seem to cross anyone’s radar. Alone time is a sad thing. Who would want that? As a result, the only time I get to be alone is when I am cowering under my mosquito net. Even then the bugs aren’t exactly under any restraining orders. And Blessing’s army of smalls will be at the window to rouse me by 0600.
Some days it’s for the best–no matter how much you want to just be left alone, lazy Sundays are more fun when you spend them with family. While my two goofs might be a world away, being adopted by the neighborhood is pretty nice. Though if I ever want a moment of peace, I might have to play dead. Even then, I’m not sure I’d survive a Ghanaian funeral.
Hope all’s well back home,