364: Devastating Realization: Did I Fail The Dice?
Trying to keep my cool when the realization hits me. Video: Isaac Stone Simonelli
A NAUSEOUSNESS fills me as a three-wheeled tuk-tuk trots its way from Kilifi to Mombasa Airport: did I fail the dice? That's what's eating me up inside, spinning my stomach like it's on its own carnival ride. Watching the wet landscape slip by beneath the gray clouds threatening more rain the realization blindsided me. Did I really make it this far 360 days – or something like that – only to have failed the Will of the Die right at the end?
At first, it was only the cheese that seemed to be the problem. Linda and I were in the Tuskys at Naivasha standing in front of the deli. A man whose face I didn't bother to take notice of stood behind the display of cheese rounds waiting for us to select something to bring on our hippo picnic.
Linda tried a cheese neither of us had heard of before. She gave her head a shake, it's not so good. I try the other half of the thin sample sliver. It's fine, but nothing special.
“It was a throw up between black something or other and a Gouda,” I said to myself. Those are exactly the words I recall thinking. I meant specifically the aged Gouda, not just any Gouda. However, I said Gouda in my head when I looked down at the die in my hand.
“We'll take the Gouda,” I said.
“What about the cumin?” Linda asked, referring to a cumin-seed Gouda.
With the results of the die whisked from my head, I order the damn cumin-seed Gouda.
“But wait. Were we even supposed to be in Naivasha?” I frantically think as the tiny tuk-tuk cuts through vast fields of sisa. The plants leaves leap from the ground like Roman swords, rows of them spreading out in straight neat lines.
I'm too scared to look back and check the roll.
We rolled the dice. I read out the name of some lake. Linda looked it up on her phone.
Was it really Naivasha? Or had Naivasha just showed up in the Google search as a popular option given some algorithm? I can't recall. Despite nearly a year of crystallizing memories down to the tiniest details and thoughts, I can't dredge up the moments after rolling the dice for the “last big roll”. I see Linda hunched over her phone in the yellow light of the guest bedroom at Lovince's place, but I can't remember exactly why we ended up in Naivasha.
“It's not like I knowingly went against the Will of the Die,” I think, desperate to comfort myself.
A tuk-tuk ride from Kilifi to Mombasa is a long ride. Longer if you think you've fucked up an entire year's project.
Our little buggy rolls to a stop outside the airport, where a security guard carrying an assault rifle peaks in at me and my modest pile of luggage.
Moi International Airport is a quaint little building with only a few runways and relaxed security.
I place my bags on the conveyor belt to go through the x-ray machine. It's strange to think of this as an international airport, especially as there are only a couple of people in the building who are not employees.
“What is this?” the security guard asks me after I open my tank bag to reveal four silver hoops.
“Ah, I'll show you.”
I remove the magical linking rings and count them one by one.
Sometimes magic is appropriate at the oddest moments. Photo: Isaac Stone Simonelli
“Four rings,” I say.
Then, with a swift motion, I drive one ring through the solid metal of the other. Holding two other rings out to the side, I let them effortlessly become linked .
I quickly finish the linking rings routine to the amazement of the security guard.
“How did you learn this?” he wants to know.
“YouTube, you can find it on YouTube,” I say.
The man is so enthralled, it would be no surprise to find him practicing magic tricks as soon as his shift ends tonight.
In a rush to pack the rings and on a bit of a high from a successful magic trick, I accidentally spill pens and pencils from my tank bag.
Once everything is packed back up, I wait to board the plane for Nairobi.
I could have taken the bus, but for another 30 bucks, I have more time to catch my breath before turning much of what's left of Rafiki (cash) into a Masai Mara safari.