So, here’s the skinny: as many of you knew, I was “evicted” from my house sometime in November because my landlord sold his house to someone else, but the landlord was giving me until February 1 to move out. I went on a huge house-hunt, found a house in an olive orchard that needed considerable work before it was livable, and January came and went with almost no work done to the house. My landlord gave me an additional month to live here, saying I had to move out by March 1. It’s March 2. The landlord who bought my old house has told me I can stay here until November (when I leave). But now, the olive orchard house is also finished. All that said, I’m moving to the olive orchard, inchallah, on Sunday. Geesh, that’s a mouthful.
I went out to the orchard a day or two ago to take a look around, you know, get to know my new neighborhood, so to speak. As Allal, the new landlord, was showing me around my house, we climbed up to the roof to get a good view of my village. It had to be one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever had of my village. In the distance you could see the plateau stretching for miles, even to see the far-off mesas. To the right, you could make out the city centre where I currently live. Directly in front of my new house is the oldest part of my village, a small community of mud-brick homes and a mud-brick mosque. I’ve been told that the mosque was once used as a “fort” of sorts during a community skirmish, that probably amounted to something more along the lines of tribal warfare. But that was many years ago. And of course, it’s an olive orchard. So there are olive trees everywhere you look.
While Allal and I were standing on the roof, we were having a very typical conversation, something to the effect of, “Oh, so why don’t you marry a Moroccan woman?” and “Do you cook for yourself?” Then, I brag about doing my own laundry and cooking for myself (you know, a dude doing all the “women’s work” – breaking cultural boundaries, that sort of thing). Then came the big question: “Do you cook bread for yourself?” Which would be the ultimate “job of the woman.” I responded: “No, I don’t know how, but I need to learn so I can show my mother how to cook it.” Allal thought that was hilarious and laughed so hard, I thought he was going to fall off my roof. He then yelled down to a woman in the dirt path on the street below, “Hey, hey, you need to teach Fouad how to cook bread, har har har!”
We saw the rest of the house after that. It’s got greenish-blue walls and a ruby red floor. The outside is painted yellow, and the windows are red. It’s basically the most ridiculous thing in the world, and I love everything about it, even the giant sunroof, which doesn’t yet have a covering (I’m debating whether or not I should be worried about rain). As I got ready to leave, Allal asked me to follow him, and he took me to the house of the woman who he yelled at from the roof – Miriam. I went in and had tea and the family was asking me about America and whatnot. They wanted to try American tea, so I’ll break out the Lipton after I’ve moved.
It’s nice to be in a situation where I feel welcomed by my community. I’ve been yearning for that since I first arrived. It’s not that my village isn’t welcoming; it’s that city-life and country-life are just two very different kinds of welcoming. Out in the countryside (l-blad), people are naturally more open and hospitable. They have to be. You have to depend on your community when you’re far from the amenities of the city.
The catch-22 of the more welcoming community is that my privacy is probably about to be zilch. I have every expectation that eleven year-olds are going to be walking by my window yelling, “Fouad!” or kicking soccer balls into my metal door 24/7, and my house is also connected to a garage that’s being turned into a little shop with its very own foosball table. That’s not going to get annoying at all (read: sarcasm). Actually, I am kind of excited about having a foosball table/hangout spot, but I also think I’m going to have days where I wished for some peace and quiet. Compare that with my life now where I have entirely too much peace and quiet. It’s just a big change.
But I haven’t moved yet. It’s just all in waiting for the inevitable (whatever that is). That’s the story of my life right now. I’m stuck in the betwixt and between, and there’s not really anybody there stuck with me, it seems. I’m on the kerchief of moving. Or I’m on the edge of having this glasses project complete. Or I‘m waiting for friends to leave and new ones to come. All of these things are within sight, but they have no guarantee. And there’s nothing I can do to guarantee them. So, it’s like I’m in this constant state of trying to control my life in a country where you can’t control anything, or I’m in a constant state of worry that what I want and, well, reality, won’t actually cross paths. It’s part of the journey, I guess.
This is the part of the blog where I usually offer some kind of insight, some epiphany or resolution that connects back to a universal we can all apply to our lives. You know, something like, “We’re all caught in the betwixt and between, but it’s okay because…” Yeah, no, I don’t got one for this. No epiphany yet. Though I think that in itself is a bit of wisdom I should be thankful is trying to float my way. What wisdom, you ask? Namely that in our endless attempt to figure things out, have solutions, and understand the problems we face, we make the bad mistake of assuming that there always is a simple one-liner of a solution. Sometimes, there’s just… not. Sometimes, life just is a betwixt and between, a balancing act between right and wrong or desires and reality. Sometimes, we just have to throw our hands up and accept that there’s nothing that can be done, that the best thing is to just be patience and let life take it’s course, whatever course that may be, even if that course takes us somewhere we don’t want to necessarily go. So, that’s where I’ll leave you for now – somewhere in the middle.