It’s Tuesday, hump day in the Middle East, and I am wrung out. Grading, planning, planning, grading – with little room for breathing. And I’ve got rugby in a few hours. Still, I can’t really complain. If I get my passport back as planned, I’m off to Jordan this weekend to float in the toasty waters of the Dead Sea and then, in a week, to shiver in the autumnal streets of Berlin and Copenhagen, leaping in the leaves.
I thought a brief update was in order, as I’ve been MIA since my previous post about breakfast at Ian’s. A few days ago, I saw that my article finally got published on Matador.com. It was an exciting moment, but it wasn’t my best piece (as this entry isn’t one of my best), and reading it in retrospect has been sort of deflating. It’s trite, obvious, and unremarkable. Ian teased me about it over breakfast on Saturday, suggesting I write an article about how to live.
“Breathe,” he began dramatically. “Talk. But we’ll say ‘communicate.'”
Later, he added, “No, it’s very useful. I might find myself near a large gathering of people and I won’t know what to do, so I’ll pull out your article. ‘Avoid large groups.’ Whew. Okay.”
Still, it’s the first piece of travel writing I’ve been paid for, and I’m proud of that. Gotta pay the bills somehow! (And this paycheck will take care of the EZPass statements that have piled up from the summer’s travels.)
On a bleaker note, Raymond, the principal of my old school here who hired me way back in 2011, has departed indefinitely for the States. The expatriate lifestyle is a transient one; the people you meet are more familial than friendly, and they are constantly passing in and out of your life. While I’ve gotten used to it after two years, Raymond’s departure strikes a new and different chord. Raymond is as integral a part of Egypt as the pyramids; he is the reason I came here, the reason I persevered through the difficult times at my old school. He is easily the paragon of generosity, assistance, and genuine good will.
To say goodbye, we journeyed downtown to Sequoia, an elegant restaurant perched on the inky banks of the Nile. It was an intimate affair, the guests including Rebecca and Amy, who have been here since the school first opened; Stephen, Amy’s boyfriend/my pool teammate; Ayman, our dedicated and jovial driver; and Ashley, who started her adventure in Egypt the same year I did.
It was an enjoyable evening, but the laughter and conversation seemed to have wistful undertones that even the club-thumping bass of a passing party boat couldn’t drown out. I left feeling a tad nostalgic, lamenting the good ol’ days when life in Cairo seemed interminable and the notion of moving elsewhere was a distant speck on the horizon.
I promise a more well-written, less whiny entry after I get back from Jordan.