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Nishant Choksi illo for Dave Eggers story
Photograph: Nishant Choksi for the Guardian 

I had no business being at the Republican National Convention. Somehow, though, I had finagled a press pass to the gathering, and I was sitting 50 rows up at Madison Square Garden, watching one of the convention’s few African-American Republicans give a speech to the general disinterest of the scattered afternoon audience, all wearing red and white and blue.

I was ostensibly reporting on the convention, so I reached into my backpack for my notebook. But my notebook was not there. I did the customary frantic rifling through the backpack, but soon I recognised that I had left the notebook on the plane. I had just flown from Phoenix, where I’d attended a conference for the South Sudanese diaspora, to New York, and now I replayed it all in my mind: I was on the plane, and was writing in the notebook – the notebook was just a blank hardcover book – and at some point I put the notebook in the seat pocket in front of me.