R.I.P. Mohammed Ramadan
The Cairo Stadium riot is over.
The bodies of the four dead hikers in Sinai have been found.
The South Korean tourists who suffered from the bus bombing are either buried or recuperating.
The government schools remain shut until March 8 due to H1N1.
Do you hear any of these stories about Egypt?
I hear them and they hurt me.
If I were picking a country to live NOW, it would not be Egypt. However, I picked it in 2009 and I landed here. Tomorrow, I'm supposed to be getting a kitchen designer coming here to take measurements. It's a moment of, "Am I really staying here? Should I really be sinking more money into this apartment?"
This week I've been working so hard and today is my day off. Jummah Mabrook. It's as if I didn't have time for the pain, and now that I can relax, some tears flow.
One day this week, riding home on the bus, I caught sight of those plastic bags filled with bright pink cotton candy. They were, as they always are, held aloft on a stick. I couldn't see the man carrying it. The vivid color was this beautiful contrast to brown and beige neighborhood. I heard the toot of the horn cotton candy sellers always use. It's joyful; the whole moment is a promise of sweet things. Then, the seller came into view and it was only a little boy. I was surprised to see that he couldn't have been much older than my son. He was dressed in a galabiya and he was working as he walked. The sight of him trying so hard to live through this moment was melancholy for me.
So many people are trying so hard. Probably you are too. My mother loves to say, "Life is not for the faint of heart." She's right. At the same time, it's our hearts which enable us to keep us humble and quiet.
I talk A LOT as a teacher. I have to. They pay me to lecture and read and guide. I'm quiet right now. I'm sitting in a sun-filled salon, typing on this beaten-up laptop with a soppy face. Somehow the quiet has brought me to this moment of reflection. You truly can't figure out where you are and who you are with too much noise and news.
I cropped myself out of a photo today and I sent it along with my CV. I hadn't gone looking for work but an email came and there were some big numbers involved. I looked for a recent photo which didn't make me look too haggard. That's not an easy task! Since the summer, almost all of my photos have been bad; I've looked worn out, old and tired. I went back to the photos from our Spring trip.
I was smiling and happy next to my husband in Aswan. I looked vivacious and it's been a while since I've seen that face. After opening it up in Photo Editor, I pulled the rectangle closer, closer, closer. I was alone since you couldn't see my husband any more. You couldn't really tell I was in Egypt either. I was without person or place. I was only "me".
Who are you when you are only "you"?
Do you like what you see?
I like me.
I'm just not sure if I like me living here.
Mohammed Ramadan's last picture he posted on Facebook before he died.
I got that quick and disappointing response from the recruiting company. Yes, they had sent the email BUT they weren't going to submit my CV to the school in question. Whatever. I replied that it would be good to tell me why I was not considered a good candidate so I didn't waste their time in future. Regardless of what they say, I don't think I'm going to venture outside of Egypt.
Mohammed Ramadan tweeted from Sinai, "Egypt: love it or leave it" not knowing that he would soon leave Egypt and the whole earth as well. The message remains after he's gone, Allah yerhamo.
It sounds, at first, as if you have to submerge any negative feelings to remain living here. That isn't true. Pretending to be happy when you're not isn't healthy. It's good that I applied for a job outside of Egypt. Alhumdulillah. It's good that they refused my application. Alhumdulillah. It's freeing to know that living and working here is a viable option while other possibility aren't. It frees me from dreaming stories instead of planning reality. I need to cool my jets and accept that I'm here; I'm not leaving.
If I am here, then I need to be loving. I have to find a way----past the bad news. I don't always like living here; it's true. I just have to keep from hating it. Things in motion stay in motion and I don't want to become embittered by events.
Inshahallah, this will remain my home, not because it's the place where I'm forced to live but because I choose to live here. I explored an option and it didn't work. I am free to go but I choose to stay.