Monday, February 9, 2015

momenting

Every night since my arrival I've heard the rapid thunder of fireworks here in Cairo. I asked J what's the occasion, to which he responded, "it's Egypt." Tonight I was sitting out on the balcony listening to music as the booms began their echo, and this time I saw them just over the buildings--flared palm trees of bursting light, greens and whites and reds above the Nile. It is a Monday night. What is the occasion? It is Egypt.

Often my mind drifts back to all those restless days in Pittsburgh...days of pacing the apartment, of knees bouncing together in the writing room, my cat purring around ankles. I was buzzing with an electricity that had no place to go, nothing to absorb it but my own time and thought. Restless is the word I use because restless is what I was. Restless at the office, restless at home. I found pockets of placement for that energy--expelling her on bike rides through the city, trees and streets ticking by as I climbed and climbed the hills or coasted down them. Every morning I rode across the same small bridge on my way to work, acknowledging whatever current season by the color of leaves or debris in my path. I threw random salutes to the sun, to spring or remnants of snow. I piled on my layers or shed them willingly as the sweat started to roll. I filled myself with the act of movement as brain vibrated in her holster. At night I would lay in bed and hear my neighbor snore, or a woman laugh at the bus stop across the street. I'd walk to a friends house or get take out alone. I paid my rent. I loved my city, I showed up to events. Still, restless in that space where muscle and bone meet. Restless in a way bound to end, as things never stay the same even when you're preoccupied with wondering if they will ever change.

I knew that time would pass, even then. Knew there would be a day when I looked back at it with a sense of pride and wonder, a little bit of sadness too. I've always done that. In any given moment a part of me might stretch beyond it and try to see it from a future point--what would I remember most, what of the memory might last. I am now there, looking back, feeling a bit protective. And I know someday I will see this moment too...my first week living in Cairo, hearing fireworks every night mixed in with low flying helicopters, music from passing taxis, the image of a woman carrying a case of water on her shoulder on the street below. I stay somehow slightly split in my moments, the present that only/never exists.

There are times I get caught up in my head, in thoughts negative and forceful, thoughts that insist my life is half lived and not paid enough attention. That I must be doing something more, even if I have no definition for it. Perhaps we all find ourselves there from time to time, stuck in our heads, denying our current. Living is such a strong and fragile thing. Today's meaningless task or quick-scrawled journal entry might be the one thing we can recall best about an era once lived.

I did not expect to fall in love, even though it grew into the most natural feeling. I did not think I was capable of something long distance--in theory thinking the miles might destroy me, might atrophy my heart. But even nothing is something, and the miles taught me more about presence than I was ever really prepared to know. All those days alone in Pittsburgh, buzzing electric and impatient, contained more growth than I could be aware of in the moment. Now over my shoulder I see it. Even those evenings I would come home from work and lay on my bed in tears, with my coat still on and my bag on my shoulder--those painful moments of uncertainty and frustration and sadness...they are a part of me that I cannot/will not tear from the book. They were as necessary as the sun and warmth.

All this to say I'm thankful for this life, for its wicked and unexpected trajectory. For all that leads me to wherever I may go. For this heart that never rotted, but instead grew extra rooms. For this moment, and that one too.

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