It was the last day of school, yet I left at 9:00 rather than stay. I had wanted children to sign my yearbook but I wanted cash more. The school bus was leaving for the bank and if I wanted any hope of stocking up money for the June 30 mayhem, I had to leave.
Remember that we don't have a car. If we want to go somewhere badly enough, we can plan it out. My husband wanted to go to an ATM yesterday, so he walked to six of them. There wasn't any money. The closer we get to Sunday, the less likely it is that banks will keep giving money out. I grabbed a couple of co-workers who speak Arabic and English to come along with me.
We passed the long lines outside the gas stations. Every gas station is packed with people wanting and needing gas to survive. It's sad. It's at times like this that I'm grateful I never felt the need to have a car in Egypt. Truly, it is more trouble than it's worth here.
Subhanallah, if you hear about Egypt's troubles, please remember that it could be worse. People are patient. I know that you'll see horrible things on video; it's bound to happen. On the whole, the majority wait for their turn, give to others what they can and fear Allah. How else can you explain a country still functioning without police presence for years?
My female co-worker made the astute observation, "When the electricity goes off in New York there's mass looting and crime. Here? It happens many times a week to many more and yet people take it in stride."
When we arrived at Dandy Mall, I could see long lines outside ATMs. There wasn't any money in them. There hasn't been any money in them for days. Funny how you couldn't convince anyone of that fact as everyone had to try it themselves. I was going to withdraw from the teller window and so was everyone else.
I reached the line and asked for my money. I was stupid---really, really stupid. I had thought that I just needed my school-issued visa card. NOPE! I needed ID. I didn't have any! I hadn't known I was going to the bank that morning. I knew I couldn't leave without my money. I thought quickly (with a whole room full of people wanting me to hurry up and get done).
Remember that yearbook? I grabbed it out of my bag and opened up the page to my face on the English Department picture. The man laughed, said, "You're famous," and gave me my money. No one behind me could believe it but I could because life really does work that way. Subhanallah.
I was scared to leave with my money. The trick about walking around with a wad of cash is that you have to forget about it. I did put it in the bottom of my bag. I did carry the bag closely but I didn't act like I had it.
The other thing I was carrying was a brand new IPad. I hate it. It's from AbuBoo. If you've been reading this blog for awhile then you know this is my soon-to-be-eight-years old son's father. Shout out to Long-Time Readers! The IPad was something we fought about. We fought about it to the point where I had to lie down with high blood pressure. Astragferallah. I said it was too advanced for my Boo. If my little guy couldn't figure out how to turn off the TV when I ask, or pick up his toys off the floor, then he wasn't ready for such an expensive toy.
What I didn't say is, "You, Jerk! How is it that you don't pay a thing for years and rebuke my attempts for you to pay a portion of his yearly tuition, only to magically appear as the savior on his birthday?! How can you write over all your real estate to your wife, thus negating your son, and then pretend you love him so much with a pricey present?! How could you come to Egypt and only give him 120 LE? How could you talk to him first about this without consulting me? Don't you know that I'm going to be the one monitoring his IPad usage and therefore the Bad Guy while you ride off into the sunset on the white horse?"
The other issue was how the IPad was getting here. His first-and-current wife was coming with his kids to Giza. Yep! Giza has two of his ex wives and only one of us was stupid enough to remarry him. Thank God it wasn't me. Somehow I had to deal with her to get the goods. I hate that too. It's very upsetting to me. I didn't want my husband anywhere near her. I already lost one man to her through some kind of strange means so there was no need to put another in danger.
We sent the older brother. "She's very beautiful like a dancer but she's dangerous like a snake," was his very well phrased response to meeting the first-and-current wife. He's exactly right. If in 2005, that woman could have reached inside me and physically yanked out my unborn child, she would have.
"I came from AbuBoo," said my brother-in-law. Of course, he spoke in Arabic and he didn't say that exactly. I use "Boo" as my son's name on this blog.
The first-and-current suddenly flashed fire, as she is wont to do. "Don't call him that! He is the stepfather!"
My brother-in-law, who never let on that he was family (and not just a dude picking up the stuff), hadn't meant any harm. He loaded up the suitcase and left. It wasn't just the IPad.
It was also a load of old hand-me-down clothes. There's nothing new. The first-and-current works at Target. There's a great discount there but it's not used for my son; it's only used for her son. My son is the miscene; the poor guy. Whatever. I did have to control my anger when I saw the jeans with the hole in the knee. No, you didn't have to send those. No, you really didn't. And since my son is turning eight, inshahallah, he didn't need the size 5/6 clothes. Alhumdulillah. I had to say a lot of "Alhumdulillah."
So, there I was at the mall getting money and now I needed to get that stupid IPad initiated. It requied Wifi AS IF AL-HARAM HAS WIFI! It really could have been started and loaded up in the U.S. but it wasn't. So, there I was hurrying through the mall looking for the Apple Store.
Funny how a woman with a lot of money can find the H&M and the Marks and Spencer. I was zeroing in on my radar for everything I wish I could buy BUT I needed to be a good mom---and a quick one at that! I found the store, spoke in my best Arablish and got the stupid thing started up.
I ran upstairs to where the Playmobil store used to be. Ahhh, but that was before the revolution. It isn't there now. One of Mr. Boo's wishes had been to get a Playmobil pyramid complete with pharaoh and mummy. No such luck, Duck!
My phone buzzed. I had a message coming in. I knew what that meant. The bus was leaving! I had to book it down the escalator while texting my co-worker to wait. You know what's scarier than being in a mall with lots of money? Being in a mall with lots of money and no way to get back to school! I went quickly and hoped that security wouldn't stop me for looking suspicious.
There was the bus! I did my best gestures to indicate, "I'm a pedestrian. Get out of my way!" while crossing the roads around the mall to reach the bus. Whew! I thanked my co-worker profusely. We still had to wait for two more.
As we waited, we chatted. I'm awful at chatting because I divulge too much. I give away too much of my life. I feel too comfortable to share. I don't realize who to trust and who not to. Astragferallah.
The male co-worker I'd asked along, showed up and sat down next to us. He was listening in to us talking and then adding his own thoughts. Soon he was asking his own questions. He asked why my husband doesn't have his own computer. He asked if my husband read the newspaper. I could see where this was going. My life was getting pigeonholed.
I've felt so alone in Egypt. I've really never developed a long-lasting friendship here. It's more like a train station than a place to settle down for any like-minded friend of mine. It happened again this year with a teacher who said she was staying for years but only stayed months. It's a lonely gig. I miss friends. I miss people who understand me and don't try to make me conform to some standard of conduct which is acceptable to the majority.
I prayed my last prayer of the school year and I cried. I cried for many things. I cried for a school year which began in high hopes at an Islamic school teaching KG and ended SUBHANALLAH at an international school teaching high school. I cried for people I thought I knew, for a country I wish could be simpler, and for hard times that seem to never end. I cried for opening up too much to people. I cried for that moment in sujud when I wish I never had to get up again. To be with Allah is the one moment when you don't have to worry about what you think or feel. To be quiet and tearful while you are prayerful is like a wudu to the soul.
I had to make it to the stadium. It was time for the senior's graduation rehearsal. It was funny how one of the girls I loved the most was emotional. She was feeling a lot like me! I knew it. She left the room with tears. When she came back, I asked if I could give her some words of wisdom. She nodded.
"What you're going through isn't sad or happy; it's a transition and it's really overwhelming. It's filling you up with all kinds of emotions because it's a big change. I understand. Just like a caterpillar, you have to keep going into becoming a butterfly. You can't stop it! So, just let it happen."
She smiled. She had started the school year in Syria. Imagine that? God bless her.
My name was left off the list of those teachers participating. Sigh. Really? LOL! If ever I wanted to feel unwanted and unloved, then this was a good way to help that feeling along! They found me a spot and I marched along with the others to the stage.
As I stood there, I saw a senior boy I'd had in class. Actually, I hadn't had him in class because he always skipped. He was funny and fun and he failed. He wasn't graduating. He watched from the doorway and it was sad. Astragferallah for missed opportunities. There was another boy who was missing and he too had failed. Both of them were unable or unwilling to make the effort before and thus relegated to the sidelines of life. Astragferallah. Both of them are extremely likable people and I wish better for both of them.
I clapped for the seniors as they practiced walking to the podium. I graduated early from high school so I was really out of the loop when I came back for the ceremony. It wasn't the big fun for me. I was already working, doing theatre and dating my first serious boyfriend. I felt a full circle moment. I was one of those adults on stage now. I was an authority figure. I caught the eye of the girl from Syria and we smiled at each other. Subhanallah, it's a moment like that you feel blessed.
Alhumdulillah, I got to leave a little after 2:00 so I could pick up Mr. Boo from his last day and go home on the early bus. I was hot. It was not a good idea to be up on a black stage at 1:00 in Egypt. I had a headache. Some of the pain in my head was from crying but a lot of it was from being in the blazing sun.
I turned the corner and found two girls cooling off in the shade. "Hi, Girls."
"Ms. Yosra, are you going to teach seventh grade next year?"
"It looks like I will," I tried to say with a smile.
"I hope I'm lucky enough to get you."
Wow. Then I really did smile and I told her that was very nice to hear. It was.
That male co-worker apologized before leaving for the summer. That was nice to hear as well. It didn't erase what happened but it did help.
I made it home. I had a huge headache. I had my boy and he had his IPad. I ate, slept and put ice on my head. Eventually the pain subsided.
Today it's the graduation. I'll then have one day after that before the trouble hits...inshahallah.
Somehow, it all works out.