In book club, we are reading "From Beirut to Jerusalem", by Thomas Friedman. It was my pick, prompted by the recent turmoil in Lebanon and by another member of the book club who has close ties to the region.
I started re-reading it last night (for the third time) and it brought back so many memories, I was overwhelmed (momentarily) by .... homesickness? Friedman introduces the book by describing how he fell in love with Israel, and then Cairo. Parts of his story are so similar to my own "romance" with the region, and it is a strange feeling to be brought back to that moment of first love when I am so incredibly far from it right now. It's like a whole different person experienced those lovely moments.
My first morning, on my first trip to any middle eastern country, waking up in the old muslim quarter of Jerusalem to the calls of the minaret, walking the old worn stones that make up the passages of the old city, smelling the spices, animals, breads baking... women in hijbab, men praying in yarmulkes. I was blown away. I think it was only later, studying in Cairo that I really thought to myself that I could live there and be pretty darn happy. Maybe I never got over the honeymoon, but every day I walked out my apartment door (for three months), I was so happy and thankful to be there.
Those were the blissful days, before 911, before the Iraq war, before Israel erupted in violence again. Before having a husband and son to love, before the fear of losing them, or myself, had ever really entered into my world.
I dream someday of living amongst the spice smells, the animal sweat, and the old worn stones again. Speaking fluent arabic to my friends who wear hijab. Then I get distracted by my reality dream - that sometime in the next 30 minutes my son will quit his blasted screaming and take his darn nap.