“You need cab?”
“You need cab? Where you go?”
“I give you special price.”
“I said NO.” [First conversation back in Cairo.]
In Sweet Home Alabama – unsurprisingly one of my favorite movies -, in the middle of one of Alabama’s apparently myriad coon dog cemeteries, Josh Lucas’s character utters a profound statement through his thick Southern drawl: You can’t have roots and wings.
Lately I’ve been wondering what the repercussions are for attempting to claim both. To say the least, I do feel quite a bit stretched.
Leaving home was astonishingly more difficult than it has been in the past. And with landing in Egypt came the sudden realization that I’d signed on for one more year here. Here. Here in this dusty panorama choked with burning piles of trash, occasional leery men, and bureaucratic inefficiency. In the days leading up to my departure, I struggled, digging my heels into the ground, inhaling my last mouthfuls of clean air, almost crisp with a taste of autumn. I no longer wanted to come back. Instead, I felt like bumming around my parents’ house for a longer stretch of time, meeting Shar by the school at night to walk our dogs. (I say ‘our,’ but I really mean her dog and my sister’s dog.)
But life only moves forward, and so forward I go.
Yesterday was something of a blur: two plane rides with major sinus infections ameliorated by Benadryl and a move – previously involving two good-hearted roommates, a few cabs, and four hours – expedited by good friends resulted in bed at 7:30. (Thanks to my driver, his two friends, and Rebecca, Nelson, and Mo.)
Today was a breath of fresh air when I needed it the most. I dragged myself out of bed for the sole purpose of grabbing lunch with John and Val, the adventurous Aussies from safari. They were staying in a hotel down in Tahrir Square and heading off early the following morning. Eager to see them again, I hopped on the metro with my good friend Nelson, who had offered to accompany me there. He went so far as to help me find the hotel before he headed off to Zamalek.
Val, John, and I had drinks and a modest lunch at a rare park Val picked out just along the Nile. It was truly a wonderful afternoon and I could have sat there for hours listening to stories about the safari – after Shannon and I had gone – and their trip through Egypt and visit to London. It’s always a thrill to meet someone in one country and then reconvene somewhere else through good timing and a desire to see them again. (For example, when Shannon and I went to NYC to see Dave and Malcolm, I smiled so much that it hurt. Literally.) We ended the afternoon back at their hotel with cold beverages and more conversation until Nelson arrived in a cab to ferry me back to his, where I met his mother, sipped peppermint tea, and munched on gingersnaps while viewing photos from his sister’s wedding reception in India.
I am still feeling a bit overwhelmed at being back here, and I have a yearning for my roots back home. But I also feel very blessed to have met so many wonderful people in my life who can help transform a potentially sour day into a good one.