In Benin, one unexpected situation can take hours and there are always unexpected situations. But time here feels different, as it usually does in new places. In the way vacation days can seem interminably long and busy work days inexplicably short, different places call for a different relationship with time. The hours are the same, but it’s as if they do magic tricks when you’re looking the other way.
Patriotism is experiencing a feeling of belonging, of knowing how you and your story fit into the puzzle of a nation’s borders, and I’ve rarely felt this, though it’s not particularly hard to see how my story is an American one, crisscrossed as it is with immigrant dreams and transatlantic love (both my parents’ and my own).
Now, we are no longer people who take in the city by the open air when we get from here to there. Now, we ride around shielded in metal vehicles, looking through windows, with air conditioning blowing our sweat dry before we arrive at our destinations.