Sunday, May 17, 2009


You know it is time to go home when every picture, poster and decoration no longer resides on the wall. Egyptian quilt? Crumpled in a heap on the ground...Poster of Arabic phrases? Somewhere behind my nightstand....Photo of the King and Queen? Facedown next to the bed. I can take a hint, Jordan.

When the new white shirts you brought over from America have transmuted into a tawny tan (despite repeated washings) not unlike the desert around me, you know it’s time to go home.

When your roommates no longer talk to you, and your best friend is leaving Thursday, you know home is calling.

When the thickness of dust on your nightstand is impervious to attempts at cleansing, it is time to get on that plane.

When you can respond to vulgar catcalls with equally uncouth Arabic insults, you know it is time to go home.

When you have been to Syria (and Petra) more times in that last year than you have ever visited your nation’s capital, it is time to return to Uncle Sam.

When you actually begin to enjoy 8 hour waits on Syrian borders, and form lasting friendships with people you meet there, you need to return to the USA, land of no border waits.

When you have utterly exhausted two pairs of shoes, it’s time to go back to America, land of big-feeted women, and buy some new ones.

When the bank account is dipping despairingly towards zero, it’s time to head home to free room and board.

When your scarf collection is threatening to overwhelm the large space to which you have relegated it, flee for home!

When you have completed the Rogue State tour, and wonder, given the salient state of Arab Nation visas in your passports, if the Americans will even permit you re-entry, it is time to grovel (or flirt) to American border control.

When your English conversations begin to include an appalling amount of Arabic phrases (Yani, I want to, bes, insha’allah…) it is time to return to the English-speaking hemisphere.

When your adventures of the past 9 months move from incredible, to incredulous, to incorrigible, it is time for Minnesota.

When you know you’re coming back, in 3 months, to Cairo, and going to grad school at AUC for two years, it’s not really leaving. In the words of Fadi, the Bedouin, “I don’t say good-byes. See you later.”

But, most importantly, when you miss your loved ones, it is time to go to home.

Friday I depart, which means frantic packing is currently ensuing. Perhaps someday I shall regal you with tales of weekends of Aqaba and Rogue State Tours and nights in Little Petra and interminable border waits in Syria. Mumkin. But now, back to condensing 9 months of Life into two suitcases and a carry-on.