03 December 2016

renaissance

i feel like writing again.

i want to put more energy here. it has been too long.

thanks to anyone who still reads this.

i'm not dead, just a little dulled, like usual.

27 July 2016

Ramadan Salah

Sometimes in the daytime we would see each other on the street, hiding under the fat green leaves that line mainstreet and wide-brimed straw hats to shelter ourselves from the blazing Ramadan sun. People shuffled around us, hungry, hot and tired, from stretches of sweltering hours without food or water. I shook your hand, maybe a moment too long, and glanced a few seconds too many at your handsome face.

Later you would come to my door, with your own key on your own time, and lay in my bed after the Maghrib prayer. The mosque shook and thundered with the prayer that released everyone from their fast. Every night you would pray, then eat eggs and dates and salty fried bread, then barely knock on my bedroom door before entering and devouring me with more hunger than the evening's breakfast. And that is where we would stay, unclothed, huddled together in front of my fan, as the streets filled with children and families reveling in the late hours.

They were just four stories down but seemed a lifetime away from my shuttered window. I would kiss your face, bury my head in your shoulder, sometimes cry, sometimes laugh. We listened to music and made love for hours.  Your skin was so soft and dark, your beard so harsh and clean. It started with a casual ease, because I was intensely sad and needed to be held. But by the end you could make my body shake like someone I had loved for years and I counted the seconds listening for the Imam to send you to me.

When I first moved in to this apartment, I would joke about what a princess I felt like high above the center city streets. Sometimes I lock myself in for days at a time to get a break from the bustle of the souk and the schoolchildren endlessly coming and going from class. But I never felt more isolated than in those times waiting for you. The minute hand dragged in extremely long ticks lingering for you, knowing you were out there, knowing I was waiting.

And the one who sent you to me would take you away, calling out from the minaret that it was the time to have juice and cookies and prepare for another long day of fasting. As the sun peeked back into the sky I was always alone, stretched out in my now empty bed, dreaming of your kisses on my back.

29 April 2016

manipulation

I don’t get why you think I don’t understand you as a person. I know who you are. I have spent the last 2 years being in love with you, something that I do not take for granted. You have been of tremendous help to my head and my heart, and I am grateful for every single second of love that I have felt since I met you, and all the love that you have given me during our time together. You say you don’t even know who I am anymore, but you know who I am. I am the same man that you fell in love with. The same man that ate macaroons and played ukulele for you in the park. The same man that held, kissed, and drank champagne with you in the pool. The same man that made love to you seven times in one day in the “drug den” and ate mussels with you while listening to Mac DeMarco. The same man that would tell you how you beautiful you looked every time he saw you. The same man that dry humped you at Kroger when no one was looking. The same man that swam with you in Santa Marta and ate arepas de huevo. The same man that visited you in Morocco, ate msemen, and celebrated eid-al-fitr in a tarbouche and djellaba. The same man that celebrate new year’s eve with you in Paris and ate steak frites and escargot with you. The same man that took bubble baths with you and cuddled you in bed even though you were soaking wet. The same man that wants to be your husband, and the father of your children. 
The same man that broke your heart. And then same man that will stitch your heart back up and make you the happiest woman in the world.


you said
everything in your life
was happy;
everything
except for me

so i assume
everything
is perfect, now.

23 April 2016

wonder

i wonder when i will start to look old
when my face will look like the skin on old pudding
and i'll look back at pictures of sunburt Morocco
and think
how young i was then!

i wonder when the letter will come
that tells me what is coming next
when that breeze will blow by
and take me floating off on it

i wonder when i will stop thinking of him
stop hating him
stop thinking at all
until i see pictures of violet Colombia
and think
how dumb i was then!

i wonder when the
spining will starve
and the trees will stop rustling
and the roosters crow softer

in between
all the time
and a little bit behind

22 March 2016

I hope I look as good as you when I am 31

I am trying to remember what I thought people in their early thirties were like when I was in my early twenties.

To be honest, I don't think I knew very many people at all at that age during that time. If I did then they were probably people who hung around college kids, in which case my perception was greatly skewed.

I probably thought about women in their early thirties as moms or as serious professionals. I thought they were old, I guess. Any man in his early thirties who persued me was definitely thought of as old. And creepy. Which is smart and true and accurate.

My age was definitely one of my major concerns about joining the Peace Corps. Would I be the old one? Would everyone else be white boys with dred locks fresh out of college, waving around their prehistoric basket weaving degree like they know everything in the world?

When I studied in the south of France at the age of 19, there was a married couple who also came on the same program. The husband was in school for art and wanted to take his wife with him to study abroad. Her name was Laura and she was magical. She had short brunette hair and an infectious laugh. I gravitated toward her like foam to the surface of an ocean wave. I would cry to her about my mean boyfriend back in the US, and how I missed my mom, and how humiliated I was at the store buying jambon fume with my shy French. She would then cuddle me, and serve me wine, and pour out good olive oil with pepper into a little dish for a fresh baguette. She had her bachelor's degree in social work and was married to a handsome artist. And she never made me feel silly or young for my frivolous little spells or fits.

She was like a mother to me. Looking back now, she was probably around 26 years old.

Yes
.
So I probably did think women in their early thirties were old.

My roommate in Morocco at our orientation hotel and I were talking the first night of our arrival and when she put together some of my timeline she whispered, almost under her breath, "how old are you?"

"31," I said.

"Oh wow!" she exclaimed. "Me too! I thought I was the only one!"

I felt a rush of relief. I had met other volunteers in our group who were older, but just to find someone my age was like a little miracle. "She understands me!" I thought to myself.

Then our other roommate came in.

"It is so funny," I said to her. "We just discovered we are both 31!"

"Really?" she said. "I hope I look as good as you when I am 31," she stated, with an aura of disbelief.

I know she meant well. I know she was trying. But the way she said it- the way she looked at me with big eyes- the tone in her voice told me "you look so young! how are you so old????"

So I guess I need to accept that most of the people here are younger than me. And they will probably look at me like a sweet grandmother. But I can find a tribe of 30-somethings and rest knowing that my experience will be different (and in my opinion, better) because of my age.

Except there is the matter of overnight trains to Venice.

When I was younger and pretending to be a member of the new Lost Generation, galavanting around Europe without a care in the world, I would hop on trains often. The way we dealt with night trains was easy- drink enough wine that you are warm and sleepy and then wake up (hopefully) in Brussels! Or Munich! Or wherever you were supposed to go. "Why pay for a night of hotel when we can sleep on the train?" was a common philosophy.

To be fair, I am sure at that age I complained of being cramped or cold or impatient, but I remember none of it. I just remember being happy and rosy cheeked and eating up the world like a mortadella panini. So last year when I planned to visit Venice for the first time with an illfated paramour it seemed like a no-brainer to take the overnight train down from Munich, arrive awake and happy and ready to take on the canals.

This did not go as planned.

The train cars were sold out, and we did not book a sleeping car. So we attemped for about 10 minutes to squeeze into one of the six seats of the car, rubbing knees with the other passengers. Giving up quickly, we moved to the luggage car where I lay my coat on the cold metal floor and sat, shivering, listening to autobiographies on tape for the entire night while cursing my life and counting sad, tired, 30 year old sheep. The travelers who had also decided to crash there (probably without tickets) made video blogs and drank whiskey and then passed out curled together in a heap. I envied them. When the train finally arrived in Venice I said to my travel companion, "I am just getting too old for this." And I felt a little part of me die inside. I then promptly started snoring on the small banquette in the lobby of the hotel where they were preparing our room.

It is true I am not the same person I was when I slept in hostel rooms with 12 other people or hid in bathrooms to avoid train ticket fares. The question I had to ask myself then was if I was still the kind of person that would join the Peace Corps. Luckily, after many nights awake staring at the ceiling, I decided that: yes, I am still the sort of person who can join the Peace Corps.

Just because I know what being pampered feels like and in most cases I prefer it does not mean that all my rough and tumble training has fallen by the wayside. I can do everything that the newly college grad can do, though maybe not yoga or marathons, at least not as well. I know how to make the saddest apartment a lovely place to live with just a sewing kit and a vision. I know how to make great friends who will make me feel at home whenever I am with them, and I can return the favor by cooking them shrimp and grits or making art together. I know how to brush things off, like the power going out for random intervals or the shower going cold for 3 days.

I may not always like it, but I can handle it. I can handle it and I will. Even at 31. Lookin' good.

09 March 2016

A boy I knew once

I will love
you
a little less
each day
Until I
don't love you
At All
anymore.

06 December 2015

sleep

I was a nervous child. When I was in grade school and I couldn't sleep, I would sit wrapped in my blanket next to my nightlight and read chapter books until my little eyes would fall closed. I would hide at the top of the stairs and watch Welcome Back Cotter and Saturday Night Live behind my parents on the couch. I didn't realize at the time that my anxiety kept me awake, that my little brain was already processing all the stress I believed I had. I worried about my little 5th grade tummy and thighs because my mother said I hadn't lost my baby fat with sadness in her eyes. I internalized all the unhappiness in my family all around me that I didn't yet understand was not normal.

In high school I stayed up all night, not so unusual. I would write down all my fears in journals covered in fairies and glitter. I wrote all the time. I wrote letters I never sent to boys who broke my heart. I wrote letters to boys who's hearts I had broken. I reorganized my closet, and I wrote short stories about it. I romanticized my teenage adventures and worried I was not having enough of them. And if all else failed then I would call my friend Katie and we would watch late night infomercials together until the screens went to static and there was nothing left to sell.

In college I left my sleeping boyfriend in our bed in my first ever apartment and scrubbed the kitchen floor all night because I knew our relationship was over and I didn't know what to do with that information. I fretted about my classes, and my body, and my decisions. I worried about the future and all the unknowns that would come with it. The night before the LSAT I stalked along the floor of the basement of the house where I grew up and considered changing everything and everyone and doing everything I could to assure never feeling so frightened again. But it wasn't the last time. It is never the last time.

In law school I would just drink.

And now I sit in my bed, listening to the morning call to prayer pour out of the mosque, seeing the first glimpses of day creeping in through my shutters, wondering what I will be doing with my life and if I really want to get married at all. Will I find a passion after this that will fullfill me emotionally and financially and and and and

Will he really be the one who will become my real partner in this crazy life? When I look into his big brown eyes I want to believe I will be able to sleep, with him, forever. I just want to be able to sleep.

28 August 2015

excerpt from a letter to Chester

February 9th, 2006
L'Ile de la Reunion

other than that i am eating a lot of active bacteria yogurt and perfecting the art of wearing scarves as dresses. now that we have a car in our life we are free as birds. 

the truth is i just really really want to be kissed.

also, i am getting over my post-madagascar depression. not that i was depressed, but it was a really weird thing. like i would look at diet coke, and think about how they don't have that in madagascar, and it would make me want to cry. diet coke?! what a ridiculous idea for a starving country, or any country. anyway, that sort of thing. but i am adjusting again. its horrible, but in a way i just have to accept a lot of things about my life, because otherwise you'll drive yourself mad thinking about all the things you have and all the things other people dont have. 

oh chester, what if i don't get accepted to any law schools? oh, oh, oh. sorry, i try and try not to think about it, but that little annoying thought just always creeps into my mind, in the morning, at tea, and laying in bed at night. i am not thinking about it. i am not thinking about it. i am not thinking about it. 

24 August 2015

meet me in Casablanca

As soon as I stood up I knew I had made a terrible mistake.

I was at the far end of a dirty baggage carousel in the Philadelphia airport. At my feet was a giant purple roller bag resembling a stroller for quadruplets, a massive army canvas duffel bag that had looked *just perfect* on Amazon a few weeks earlier but was now obviously the girth of a Volkswagen, and my new REI backpack filled to the brim, complete with dangling nylon sleeping bag sack that had hit against my ankles as I walked.

There was no way I was going to be able to carry all of this even the short distance from the baggage claim to the taxi by myself.

Getting my bags on the plane had not been such a problem. Jon swung the duffel bag over his broad shoulder and rolled the purple monster to the counter with ease. I let the overstuffed backpack drop to my knees and made my most convincing puppy dogs eyes, mumbling something about "books for the African children..." as the ticketing agent weighed my luggage. She avoided eye contact as she unemotionally stated "11 pounds over. That will be a $75 charge."

The purple monster was supposed to be the easy one. It was filled only with clothes and light shoes and some toiletries. But for the past 6 months I had been on a clothes-buying frenzy, spun up into a panic over what to wear in my new Islamic home. It is hard for a girl blessed with extreme decolletage to find shirts that cover just-so, and as someone who hadn't worn pants regularly in close to a decade I struggled for the right thing. I shopped and shopped and shopped. Peasant tops. Wide leg linen pants. Comfortable walking ballet slippers. And as much as I claimed to suffer replacing my circle skirted rainbow colored party dresses with unflattering, shapeless maxi skirts, it was nothing compared to the actual packing.

Because the actual packing, the actual placement of the myriad of new things bought expressly for my trip, made leaving my life and my love for 2 years entirely too real and immediate. Each time I would try to start dropping a sock or handkerchief into an empty bag I would feel the urge to crawl into a ball of mush on the ground and never leave the house, let alone the country, ever again. I was packing up until the moment I left the house on Sunday's rainy, dismal morning.
The night before I had mostly divided and packed all the things I had collected and researched and gathered with care. I weighed the bags on my old and beat up bathroom scale, so I knew they were overweight. But I just couldn't fathom pulling out some or all of the smushed objects and rejecting them from my trip. I was already too emotionally drained. "Fuck that," I thought. "Who charges a Peace Corps Volunteer for luggage anyway??"

What I had not completely considered was the small problem of being able to physically carry all of my luggage myself. An idea that was evident and pathetic as I stood in the Philadelphia airport, surrounded by luggage, lay in a bed of my own making.

"Do you need help, miss?" came a voice from behind. It was a valet with a large trolley.

"I can't do this," I said. "I can't do this," I said to myself as well. He loaded up the monsters on the cart and rolled them out to the taxi stand for me, in the freezing grey January Philly rain.

The next day, after sitting through cheesy team-building exercises and safety classes, the bellhop at the hotel loaded my wagons full of bricks onto the buses and I later grabbed a cart to wheel them up to the counter while checking into my flight.

The ticketing agent looked at my passport and my Peace Corps pins. He said my name in Arabic.

"Say it again?" I asked, and he did.

"In two years I will be saying it better than you do," I said, smiling at him. "You will see me and say 'How does that Moroccan girl speak such good English!'"

He weighed my bags and when he saw the number he glanced a me disapprovingly.
"Just this once?" I asked, with a little wink. "I promise I'll bring them back empty."

He smiled at me. "Just this once," he said as he handed me my boarding passes. I felt light without my colossal luggage as it  rolled away into the mystery of the airport guts.

I added myself to the security line to find my plane that would take me across the ocean to Morocco. And I was feeling like I can do this. 

I think I can do this. I have not made a huge mistake. 

29 April 2014

Run away

Morocco

can't come soon

enough.

X.