This is one of those moments when I'm sorting through my feelings and thoughts. You, as a reader, can either go with me on this or you don't have to. Me? I'm stuck with the jumble.
I don't feel good today. I woke up next to my son. We slept in the one safe place in our apartment. Safe from what? Safe from whatever could have happened in Egypt last night. When we went to bed, I didn't know what was going to take place. I didn't have the energy to stay up and stay vigilant. I'd done that the night before. I stayed awake the night before because I was too scared to sleep. Justified? My husband didn't think so.
My husband and I are not on the same page. He slept downstairs last night. I'm not sure if it was from fear of what could happen or simply from laziness after watching too much Tahrir on TV. I didn't ask. I didn't care. I'm not connected to him today. I'm at a total disconnect.
He grabbed at my sleeve this morning and pulled me towards him while demanding I speak to him. I was quiet. I don't like to get grabbed. I don't like demands. I didn't sign on for this.
What did I think I was doing when I moved to Egypt? I came here on hijrah. I knew that Mubarak wasn't the real democratic deal. I got that. Yet, I felt that the people did the best they could within that framework.
I was disappointed in the chaos of 25th of January. I didn't support the violence and mayhem. However it's been portrayed to the media, it was messier in reality. People died, businesses were ruined, and families remain to this day in fear for their future.
The elections, while flawed, were a step in the right direction. Yes, I think that democracy is better than military dictatorship. I don't love the army of any nation. I'm not with that mentality. I knew that my husband revered the military, as some schoolboy might, so I did my best not to crash his illusions. Perhaps my love of democracy was an illusion as well.
I stayed in Egypt. I'm not asking for a medal. I stayed because it was good for me and for Mr. Boo. We are the only two I care about. If I had to walk away from Egypt, I would not feel that I was leaving my husband bereft. He has his family, a finished apartment and the possibility of marrying again.
Me? I don't see my future right now. I don't see it anywhere---not today. I don't feel good in Egypt today. I feel betrayed by people I thought I could trust.
This year, at school, I felt such camaraderie. I felt some kinship. They were more educated people and more worldly. They understood me, or so I thought. On that last day, I was blindsided by a moment in which my sense of who I'd been at work was shaken. I thought...and I was wrong. I really didn't have co-workers who liked me.
Since that strange conversation, which I have deleted from the blog, I have sent some nice, short emails to co-workers that I didn't get a chance to say, "goodbye" to. I just wished them good luck in future endeavors (if they were moving on) or a restful summer (if they were returning). I haven't heard back from them. No one returned my greetings. This is despite many times of togetherness. I'm hurt---whether or not I should be.
I guess that's the deal with feelings. You, as a reader, might not understand me----and that's OK. What I need is to accept the fact that I do feel this way. I do feel hurt, betrayed and uncertain. I don't know what I do from this moment with those feelings.
It's not simple.
Yesterday, I heard from my father's lady. I had written to her (and to him) that we were OK in Egypt. We were. She wrote back saying that she had begun to wonder. My father doesn't wonder because of his Alzheimer's. She told me something very sad. His question is no longer where I am but rather if he has any "living relatives". It's gotten to that level. He doesn't remember me in his daily life. If I call, he will talk with me but in the interim, he has stopped to remember me.
That's a grab-a-tissue moment. I can't allow myself to get too sad today. That would be dangerous. I have to remain buoyant.
Mr. Boo felt like eating so I made the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and piled them up, along with a bowl of yogurt, on our IKEA plates. My mind drifted to what I could fit in a suitcase. I would take these dishes; they're so utilitarian. I caught myself thinking like this and shook it out of my head but with every bite the thought of leaving would return.
My son has a world map lying on his bed. He and I had talked about the old posters he had in his room and I took them down this week. There aren't any animals or alphabet left. There is the world map waiting for me to adhere. Today, I'm not sure how I feel sticking it up. The wall is clean. There's a part of me which wishes to leave it clean and just walk away.
In many ways, this isn't my home and never will be. I am not building up a place where I am truly secure. My husband can always kick me out. If he dies, his family can always kick me out. I am here as their guest. I am here on the third floor for every loud conversation they have at 1 AM. I am here for every screaming fit from the two little ones. I am here but I don't know if I want to be here.
The world is in front of me. I see it. I see all the places. I wonder where I'm supposed to be. My current employer has a vast network of schools all around the world. It's enticing to think of leaving for one of them. Maybe there's a school somewhere better for me. The frightening prospect is that there isn't any place in the world left which could welcome me. I feel very unwelcome here but does that mean another place is better?
The U.S. Embassy wrote to me again and told me that it recommends leaving Egypt. Whether or not you fear your current location, you do listen when your government tells you to go. I just don't know how much I feel like leaving and whether the U.S. is any safer than here.
The United States. Sure, let's look into that possibility. My mother is busy and not interested in having us around. Even if she were so inclined, I don't think that it's a healthy option. My father, as you've just read, is suffering with his degenerative disease. Neither one of them are a port in the storm.
I haven't mentioned it before, but I heard two weeks ago that an important person in my life is going through cancer treatment. This woman was like an aunt to me while I was growing up and she's got inoperable brain cancer. God bless her. She cared for me in ways my mothers didn't. She gave me some of the most normal moments of my childhood. Her whole family became my family. I was adopted by them in many ways. As a child, I was about as close to being an orphan as you can get while your parents are still alive. That family felt that and picked up the pieces---the pieces of who I was as a little girl.
In a cruel twist, this woman's husband also has Alzheimer's and their whole existence is falling apart. What do I think about that? Do I rush to them? They don't need me. They have their three children. They were meaningful to me as a child. What do I do as an adult?
I'm 45 and I'm lost. I feel it. I was feeling so self-assured as the school year was winding up. I had the whole next year in front of me. I had Ramadan coming. I had the summer to organize my life in ways that I hadn't before. I was going to be on top of it all.
Now? I feel something else. I feel alone. I'm in a country celebrating
My son and daughter in America have shunned me as much as they can. While I was in America in 2011, buying them presents and taking them out, they were happy to call me, "Mom". As soon as I returned to Egypt, they stopped. I don't have them. Do I rush to them? They aren't even in the same state as one another, as my big boy is really a man off at college. My girl wished me dead the last time I called. I don't call any more.
Women go on and on and on. I know. Men shoot from the hip. Men say, "What do you want?!" Men don't want this introspective blah blah. They want to set a goal and have you to take aim towards that.
Right now? I don't have that in my sights. Give me some time and I hope to have it better figured out. Inshahallah.