7. Coming home

Seeing Jalana waiting for her at the airport with a tiny bunch of flowers behind the railing in the arrival hall that Sunday morning, Keke Juchtleer was struck by her excessive make up, and, once they started talking, by her talent to bicker. She almost had forgotten about that. Keke and Jalana were always bickering, they had been bickering forever. It seemed an integral part of marriage, but one could say it was always Jalana who started the argument. Now it was about whether or not to have coffee at the airport, where to have coffee and whether or not to accompany that coffee with a pastry or two. It didn't matter what Keke wanted: Jalana wanted the opposite, and, more worrysome, she would start a fight about it that often turned ugly. This time, Keke was too detached, too exhausted, to care. New York City had sucked all energy from her body, all thinking from her mind, all spirit from her soul; but here was the thing: she felt euphoric. The so called business trip turned out to be the most intense week of her life, in all aspects. After an awkward long silence behind an overheated cappuccino, Keke slowly ticked off the items on her agenda. Keke had thought up such detailed lies about the Conference on the Future of Literary Criticism, such excellent lies in fact, complete with names of speakers, titles of seminars, lists of Recommed Reading, and so forth, that she had to share them, if only for her own entertainment. 'Don't fuck with me, Keek,' Jalana intervened after a while, chewing on a dry blueberry muffin, 'There was no fucking conference, there was no literary fucking criticism, there was no fucking nothing. Not in New York Fucking City. But I don't care. As long as you've had a good time, I had a good time.' A few days later, back on the Brouwersgracht, in their beautiful apartment, where Keke had lived practically all her life, the last ten years with her lawful wedded wife, she told Jalana with a confidence that surprised herself that she had decided to go back to New York, back to Bedford Stuyvesant, to start a family.

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