On Tuesdays, I decided that Art Café was going to be the temp space that I would work out of. The ideas were downloading and flowing from my thoughts to my fingertips as I typed away. The taste of the Orchid Bistro burger was still a pleasant memory. As the time neared to leave for the Café, I had no clue exactly what the layout was going to be. There was no forewarning or expectancy. Furthermore, too many places in Lagos have disappointed me in terms of accessibility. Undoubtedly, there was a higher probability that steps instead of an elevator would be present.
Getting ready in my room was a breeze. All the clothing I needed was laid out on the goose down duvet. A pair of black Topshop jeggings, a black T-shirt that read sorry, this girl is protected by Sam and Dean and midnight gogamat Sketchers was my carefree ensemble for the day. Whilst getting dressed, I thought about chatter I heard about the space. I had heard through the grapevine that the Café was a creative space, with the right vibe that encourages artistic expression. Silently hoping and praying to the gods that it was somewhat accessible, at the back of my mind however, I knew that it was a pipe dream.
Kevwe was downstairs loading the car with my burgundy backpack, my forest green faux crocodile skin handbag and my Dell laptop. Transferring into the midnight Toyota Camry was relatively easy and the drive to Victoria Island was pleasant. Due to the time of the day, there was hardly any stress-inducing traffic plaguing the streets.
“We are here”, Kevwe announced with her head swiveled towards me.
Obed drove into the compound to shorten the distance to the first step. Sitting in front of two flights of steps, I turned to Kevwe to discuss exactly how to go about it. A colossal iron figurine with threads of fabric artistically placed and wrapped, loomed over us, casting a five ‘o clock shadow and shielding us from the scorch of the midday sun. Each way you turned, your eyes feasted on imaginative and inventive pieces of art. You could practically taste the artsy-fartsy energy.
“I think we need to do the piggyback option hun”, Kevwe said with a tone of exasperation. She and I were both extremely disappointed with the layout.
“I give this place a one point five out of five in terms of accessibility”. I mean, there’s no way I can get up there unless I’m carried on your back. That’s absolutely ridiculous. Did they even entertain the possibility of someone like me coming here? I think not”.
Kevwe was slightly bemused at my tirade. Venting was pretty much the only way I could prepare mentally to do what we have done countless times before in some version. Dreading the lift a little bit, I steadied myself and sighed. How I long for the days where I didn’t need to rely on anyone to hoist me upwards or lift me. Cursing the drudgery of it all, I begrudgingly assumed the position with Kevwe seated in between my legs.
The crimson banister and the wooden steps were pleasing to the eye as we trundled along step by step. What I adored were the clay pots aligned on constructed shelves, providing an inspired architectural signature. The security guard went ahead of us with the bright orange wheelchair; giving enough time to get situated and providing a soft cushion for our landing.
When we reached the uppermost step, I gasped and caught my breath for the view was absolutely brilliant. The décor was understated artsy elegance. Mosaic and water-colour paintings were strewn all along the walls of the outdoor smoking area. Cutesy baby orange and oak fans were dotted above the tables on the ceiling. Start-up techies, screenwriters and creative beings were frantically typing away on their PCs; taking full advantage of the free Wi-Fi service, each one in a cocoon and a world of their own. Thanking the heavens that everything was one level, I wheeled about in glee until I got to the door of the atrium.
My face fell, my entire body was aggrieved because there were two large steps preventing a smooth transition. This essentially translated to two people lifting me using the frame of the wheelchair.
“Now it’s a one out of five for this space”. I said despondently. They also seem to be extremely fond of steps.” Kevwe tried to cheer me up with a funny dance. A grin escaped my lips.
“Alright, let’s get this over with”. Two waiters assumed the position and lifted me into the indoor non-smoking area. Although the atrium had an artistic aura, worthy of note, it did not detract from the fact that I had to be carried twice. The menu was already on the table. By this time, I was ready to order. Needing a distraction from my dramatic entrance, I plugged in my Sony headphones and listened to some indie alternative music.
I bid adieu to Kevwe and said to the waitress, Busola, “I think I’ll have the jollof rice and chicken.