It is becoming an unfortunate habit of mine. I sat in the London/Heathrow airport with the latest Cosmo spread across the counter, a fresh plate of sushi from Pret a Manger half-eaten next to me. Three months ago, I passed through the same terminal, endured the same layover, and occupied my time in the same manner. I was leaving Jordan, then, leaving a country and an experience both illuminating and educating, disheartening and humbling. People always return from their study abroad forays gushing about how much they learned, how much they changed, how much they absorbed. Well, sure, I learned, I changed, I absorbed. But this was elastic; imagine me as a rubber band, springing from Cairo to Minneapolis to Amman to Chaska...I did not realize, until I arrived safely, abeit without my luggage, upon Minnesota turf how enervated I was of bouncing between selves and worlds. Struggling between two extremes, I needed a fulcrum, a focal point around which to balance.
So, I spend this year seeking, not stability, because, as I recently learned, that is too extravagant a concept for a girl like me, but balance. A way to reconcile my somewhat disparate selves into a self that satisfies me. Can I be the girl who hops in a cab to Syria on a whim, who enjoys vodka and sodas over happy hour, who works in a scrapbooking store, who tells her mom (almost :) everything? Yani, henshoof, as they say here in Misr. We will see.
So, how did I get here? As in, Maadi, Egypt, somewhere off Medan Victoria, sitting on my large double bed, my fan and window cooling my flushed face, the static of tv channels droning outside, the coniferous tree rustling softly outside my window, the voices of my roommates blending mellifluously in a deep male baritone and gentle female tenor. Here. Well, physically, it was a day's travel from Chaska, MN to Chicago, and then to London, and then to the morass of humanity that is Cairo, the descent of the airplane through the visible pall of pollution onto the tarmac. But, metaphysically? I am working on my master's at the American University in Cairo, studying Teaching English as a Foreign Language. I have abandoned, at least temporarily, any thought of working for the government. Most jobs that would satisfy my NSEP requirement also, only somewhat unfortunately, also require me to be in the States during the application process. Which leads me here, to AUC, pursuing an equally intriguing career path of college-level English teaching. An opportunity to gain a master's, adventure, learn, and experience, funded mainly by my Fellowship from AUC? I was loathe to pass it up.
Life is funny, a bit ribald as well, but funny in the way it twines together separate fates and weaves a tapestry of purposeful chance and unintended consequence. Take, for instance, last fall, a little over a year ago, I was waiting in the Amman airport for a flight to Greece when I happened upon two brothers. One would depart from my life in 20 minutes' time; the other would remain firmly interwoven with mine, so firmly, in fact, that I am now pursuing a long-distance (and we know how cynical I am about love, right? Well, if you don't, I am, quite) relationship with someone living in Washinton state. The second time I met him, he found me slumped in a chair in a Starbucks in Bremerton, WA, snoring (in what I hope was a sexy rumbling; oh, who am I kidding, anyone who's heard me snore is unlikely to describe it as remotely attractive), likely drooling and sprawling. In my defense, I had slept very little and traveled very much in the past 36 hours, but, regardless, he still claimed me, and still looks at me with a little awe and a lot of love. And that, I suppose, makes all the difference.
Alright, I am going to shower and sleep. It is, after all, only 4 am here. Thanks to Ramadan, however, no one else feels slumber a necessary activity either!