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On Cruisers and Time

The hours stretch by. Expand then contract again, bouncing in and out of time, out to forever then back again. Time stops being real, it moves at its own pace. It gets lazy then catches up with itself. The heat holds it down, presses it against itself. The hot tarmac radiates up and out and keeps stretching out, behind, back where we came from.

A year ago I was in this same cruiser, driving the opposite way. Driving the eleven hours from Lusaka to Solwezi. We were restless. We put in music. We checked the time. We tried to read, talk, play a game. We looked at our watches once more. We didn’t know that the time will go as it pleases, that this road won’t rush itself by until it wants to. We occupied ourselves, we counted the hours till arrival.

A year later we have learned better. We get in the car in the morning, we curl up against the bags lining the seats. We put in music. We fall asleep. We wake up and watch the road slink by. We watch it unfurl, a never ending river of black and grey and dirt. We push the piles of stuff down around us. The packs and purses and pineapples. We nestle into the holes, rest against the soft parts, punch away the hard. We push our knees against the door, press our toes into the glass window, fall a bit deeper into the nest we’ve made. We change the music, look up, nestle down, keep watching the road beyond. We read billboards and look at the trees. We don’t ask it to go faster than it wants. We let it take its time.

Our watches go faster now. Wake up, another city. Fall asleep, the smooth tarmac gives way to potholes. Another place, another province, another few hours tick themselves off quietly, no fuss, no acknowledgement.

We are more patient now. We know the ride will go as it pleases. We know the places now, we know the landmarks to look for. We don’t need to check the time because we know that the time will not make a difference, that the clocks are arbitrary will never change as we want. So we stop wanting. We let them move at their own pace, molasses speeding up after its initial slow decent, then pulling back into itself. Chovu chovu. Slowly slowly.

And soon we will be in Lusaka, where the time makes sense again. Where the roads will stop and give way to traffic. Where watches start up once more, we get out, stretch our legs, wonder at the day flown by. Wonder at the time snapping back to the finite. Wonder at how much more patient we have become, how much easier these rides get with time. Wonder at how months have gone by, a year has gone by, too quickly to imagine fully. Too quickly to comprehend now, so for now we will ignore that spectacle in time, leave it for another day.