Now that I am commuting to State City, I am rarely in Gone West for more than a few waking hours a day during the week. Today, though, I went downtown to run a couple of errands in the afternoon, and I walked around like a newcomer, looking up at the buildings around the square and thinking, "I will never tire of this city."
I am in an appreciating-Gone-West sort of mood in part because it is African movie time again. Seven years ago, just after I moved here for the first time, I discovered that this town has a whole month of African movies. There is possibly no better way to endear yourself to me as a town than to play African movies.
Friday night, the movie involved fleeing from a war.
"I see what you mean about the movies sometimes being a little intense and hard to take," my friend said as we left the theater.
"Yeah, that was a little too reminiscent of Liberia," I said.
I cried, driving home. For a long time, leaving Liberia and not going back was my primary memory of the country. Almost 25 years have passed now, and the central spot in my brain's Liberia quadrant is now filled mostly with memories of what came before the evacuation and of my two return trips, but after watching a family run from fighting in a movie, it all came back.
Last night's movie was a horror movie. (Note: film noir is code for blood and gore. I should have realized this sooner.) Flashbacks of it kept coming back to me as I tried to take a nap late this morning. I really cannot handle horror movies. I have been known to walk out of them, but for this one I just closed my eyes and plugged my ears during the bad parts. That did not eliminate the creepy factor.
"Did you notice that the main character did not say one single word for the entire movie?" I asked afterward. No one else had. We mitigated the lingering creepiness by gathering around a wood fire in a restaurant nearby and talking about life and how to be happy.
Today, finally, the movie was my favorite kind: a little bit funny, a little bit romantic, a little bit musical. Oh, Democratic Republic of Congo. I've barely visited you, yet I like you a lot.