Monday, April 6, 2015

to be heard.

There is a sparrow that lands on strand wire hanging just outside our balcony door. He lands there often, often enough for me to notice. Yesterday I was sitting on the floor slightly breathless after a yoga pose and looked up, noticed him. He had a snarl of dried branch in his beak, on his way to continue building something. Kendrick Lamar echoed around me in the flat("when shit hit the fan/is you still a fan?") and my heart so low felt lifted watching this little thing on his way to building. A home for new life. Blue sky behind him. The moment loud and clear.

I've had an intense couple days. Two days ago I heard my first bombs here in Cairo. They've happened since my arrival, but I never heard them until now. "when shit hit the fan/is you still a fan?" I used to be so worried that I wouldn't know the difference between a firework and explosion...the truth is there's a big difference, and I knew what it was immediately. I was laying in bed, only half awake. Because stuff doesn't wait til you're ready for it to happen. Hearing the second one made me blink harder in the half-light, take stock of where my contacts were so I could pop them in quick and leave if need be. I waited for J to call. The phone didn't ring and I drifted back to sleep. The explosions occurred across the Nile, no casualties.

Later that day I found out a friend passed away unexpectedly. I corresponded with a few people online, all of us in a similar state of disbelief. Consumed with thoughts of him all afternoon and evening. The loss struck hard. Loss always strikes hard. Living is a fragile thing. I am quite far away and in moments like this the distance drags my heart. The instinct is to be there. Reality is I'm not.

Then came yesterday. Cradling a bowl of cereal in my lap on the couch, waiting for the coffee press to finish its magic. And that sound again. A deep boom, far enough but close enough. J called me immediately. The conversation:

J: Where are you? [using his work voice--blunt, hard-edged, a just-the-facts type of tone]
Me: In the flat.
J: Okay stay there. Don't go out. There was another explosion near the office. We're okay, everything's okay just stay in for now.
Me: Okay.

Shortly after I hung up the phone I called a friend that I had plans with. Did you hear that?
I pulled my body through a few motions of yoga to calm myself and then there I was with Kendrick and the sparrow and the blue sky. That moment. Overwhelmed by my own heart thumping. An hour after that I got dressed and left, continuing with my plans for the day. Saw no reason not to. I did not want fear to hold me in place, to distract me from living my life. I made the most of my afternoon and evening and I felt better by the end of it.

when shit hit the fan/is you still a fan?

Last night J and I were laying in bed and we had the following conversation:

Me: I know this will sound weird but I have to ask you something.
J: Okay.
Me: Let's say I'm on my way to the gym tomorrow or I'm inside the gym and I hear another one. I should just go back to the flat, right?
J: Yes. Go right back home.
Me: Calmly, right? Don't run?
J: Yeah just make your way back home. If you realize you're blocked from getting there just come straight to my work.
Me: Okay. That's what I figured. Just checking.

This is a real discussion--one worth having when living in a turbulent environment. This is a part of my story right now. The part many people don't want to hear, or don't know what to do with. I don't need a single person to "know" what to say. I simply want to be heard. Trying to talk about something like hearing your first bomb is not a conversation I ever gave much thought to having. But here I am. It's difficult, especially when relaying the information to loved ones/friends back home. You don't want people close to worry, but you don't want to come off as flippant. It feels ridiculous to not mention it at all, especially when the experience is so new and surreal. I don't want to ignore my reality for other people. I want a conversation--there are things to get off my chest, to wonder about out loud with other minds. Minds that I have grown with, that I respect, that I reach out for. Isn't it instinct to reach for the familiar when outnumbered by the strange? Then what? You look at your support system and weigh your trust. Who will understand? Who might shrug me off and reason "I chose to be here?" Who can handle the dialogue? Who shifts the subject smooth and never circles back? Is the distance simply too great for anyone's attention span?

when shit hit the fan/is you still a fan?

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