Wednesday, July 23, 2014

six hours forward (4)

Here are some things I'm getting used to here:

By afternoon the water comes out of the faucet very warm, even if you only turn the Cold dial. You can step out of the shower dripping and be dry by the time you make it down the hall to the bedroom.

Walking in the street. Between the every-now-and-then cat poop pile and the constant dripping of air conditioners, it makes more sense to walk in the street. I am also getting used to the double parked cars and hectic nature of traffic. During my first visit I walked quite defensively, a bit frightened by the close proximity between my body and the passing vehicles. Now I navigate more calmly.

Ramadan. Many places are closed til sundown. Some keep specific day hours(opening late) and/or Ramadan-specific menus. I am used to not consuming food outside unless in a restaurant until the sun sets. Used to the energy that blooms once darkness falls.

The language. I have yet to take a taxi out of Zamalek by myself but I can order food and turn down beggars politely. Very small victories, as any new language is complicated and takes time. Spending time here is definitely sharpening my skills. Slow but sure.

When possible, have small bills. A lot of establishments/delivery men do not have change for larger bills. Smaller bills are often coveted, rare things.

Air conditioning is your friend. I've always been one who prefers fresh air to the canned stuff, but in Egypt summer you don't have a choice. It is your refuge, your destination and resting spot. Getting used to air conditioning means you also become acquainted with brown outs--frequent short-term power outages due to all the machined cold running. We've been fortunate the last few days--the power has stayed on strong.

The time difference. Aiwa, the days still seem to pass too quickly, but I am sleeping better and waking easier. Jet lag departed with little fanfare.

Call to prayer. Funny to think I'm getting used to the frequent calls echoing through the streets. I never want to get used to such a beautiful thing, but there are days here when I only note the one signifying Iftar. It is a part of my world and my life now.

Being with J. After 3+ months of being apart, I am welcoming the routine of our mornings--catching up on the news over breakfast, our walks seeking coffee. I am getting used to a hand on my leg as we fall asleep, getting used to the echoes of our silly songs throughout the flat. I am becoming familiar with the ring on my finger. I am getting used to the normalcy this trip is creating between us, and even now writing this I cannot bear to think about leaving next week. I am typing these words at the coffee shop alone with tears totally owning my eyes. To think of being on my way home in the airports heart breaks and dams on my saline fail, it all spills. It is too soon, always too soon.

Long distance requires a person to be torn and remain torn. Torn between always arriving or departing. Torn between time zones. Torn within our hearts--I miss my family and look forward to returning to their every day presence, but doing so means leaving my love. And this sort of thing is no one's fault--circumstance is circumstance. I am forever proud of J and his career--I support what drives him and I root for him no matter where he goes. He has already made compromises for us by turning down opportunities that have come his way. You love who you love, you fall when you fall.

One of J's colleagues, upon hearing we went to high school together, asked if we considered ourselves "high school sweethearts." We looked at each other and in unison said no. Because we weren't. We were good friends, and we kissed once. We bonded over our shared feeling of not belonging in the small town from which we came. Over the years we fell out of touch, an email here or there checking in. We each had our loves and losses. His career took him out of the country, and I remember getting the news and writing to congratulate him. For whatever reason, great distance was required for our hearts to connect. We both had to live an awful lot before returning to each other, and I wonder if this is a magical thing, or simply how things are and have to be. Life is full of lessons and tragedy and victory. I believe all connections serve their purpose, and perhaps some are so important they require much living in order to truly flourish, cause current.

Long distance means being torn. Certain tears can benefit us. A tear can bring flexibility, less rigidness. A tear can mean exposure to space. Long distance is everything about space. You learn to live in the tear. You learn to sew and solder the edges. You learn to swim the moat; you learn both sides. If you are smart, and careful, and live beyond the limitations of circumstance, you will survive being torn. If you let in the hopeless, if you glare at the jagged and never see beyond it, then you risk more tearing. You risk being torn in two.

Long distance love requires a level of maturity, and I don't claim to always have that, true. I do, however, have a heart full of love. Full of trust. Full of commitment. Long distance brings a patience both fierce and fragile--it is a patience beyond anything else I've ever known. It is something that grants me a new sort of confidence but it will also bring me right up to my breaking point. J and I have both wanted to throw our phones through the wall at times--we have both felt the rage of separation and clenched teeth til they cracked...wanted or not, we found our limits(or maybe our limits found us).

I am blessed to have my use of words, my constant urge to express my heart. I am blessed to have a partner who welcomes/accepts that--a partner who uses the same tool of expression. I daydream of a day when our correspondence will be yellowed and shared with our little ones. A day when distance will be this thing we overcame and remember, an obstacle squashed. I look forward to more of our normalcy, and it will be ours because it will never be "normal"(whatever that is anyway). It will be ours because we lived and fought for it.

This is why a true home can never be a city, a building, a location outside of the body. To find home, you must crack open the ribs with bare hands, maybe teeth. Home is a chaos of vein, a red so red it's blue so blue it's black. We carry it around open doored, both vulnerable and protected. This is why my family is my home, and J is my home, all my connections are home, and the page and pen are home. Everything in my heart is the roof over my head.

And I'll come to the table every time as a soldier knowing that.

1 comment:

  1. Brown outs!

    Ah, glad to read your words, beauty. <3