This is what I had hoped for. Pieces of myself. It is what has fuelled me all these years, belief that there is no 'other people', 'we' are everywhere. Pieces of ourselves in bits of other people. I'll begin at the beginning. A lady who works for the festival picked me up from the Seasons of Perth Hotel where I am now staying, drove me to a community radio station for an interview. She asks and I confirm that this is the first place I have travelled to outside the UK in just under a decade. The conversations twists and turns, searching for a theme and what arises is family. I talk of wanting my own, now, how a part of me is after the responsibility of having to provide, of mouths to feed, how regardless of how crazy work can be, such a thing grounds you, they are fixed points. There is an honest, indelible, simplicity in that. She smiles and wishes me luck. She speaks openly about her mid-life crisis. She has such a family, woke one morning and wondered 'is this all life is?' The thought turned her world upside down, and when this happens she says, some people leave their families, leave their partners... She quit her job, changed careers and that did the trick. It is hot, the hottest it has been since I arrived. After the interview, She and I duck into a cool cafe, grab a cup of lemon grass tea and she talks a little more on where she'd come from. Family turns to identity. She is an Arabic, Syrian, Palestinian, brought up Orthodox Christian, in Australia. Words fail me. She says that in Syria, Muslims who have lived in peace beside their Christian neighbours for decades turn now and say to those cross bearers 'soon as we are in power, you are all gone'. 'There will be bloodletting' she says, 'they killed a priest last week, it is more complicated than anyone thinks'. I think of Jos, Pleateau State where I am from, the sectarian violence there, this same topic that I cover in 'Black T-Shirt Collection' and I know that at some point, she and I have stared into our pasts, into our futures and shuddered at what we saw. She says that a part of her believes that the middle eastern countries are not ready for democracy. 'There will be civil war in Egypt, Iraqi refugees have spilled into Jordan and there are more of them there than there are Palestinians and the landlords are renting to the cashed up Iraqis and there will be repercussions as homelessness grows...' She tells a joke, of a bumper sticker she saw: an American flag which read "Do what we say or we will bring you democracy". She drives me back to the Festival Grounds, I thank her and try to pack a knowing understating into our parting handshake. And I'm gone, through the museum, to the streets, to my hotel room and a space to think.
In my youth, I burned with a wild ambition of trying to save the world. At 27 I have the flames still, but they've turned to flickers. Inevitably, with age, they will be snuffed out. Till then, my wish is to meet as many people as I can; to find those who are stuffed with the same sparks, the same pieces as I am, and by doing so, prove we are not alone. It is a small wish I think.