Tuesday, June 18, 2013

And the Years Fly By...

The coffee machine at the Embassy has been broken for days and so this morning I was forced to walk to Starbucks for my morning coffee before hailing a cab to work.

And yes. I am aware of just how horribly first world that problem sounds, but people, please: I have four kids and a full-time job, and ain't no way I'm going to last past eight a.m. without my coffee. So I planned ahead and left extra early to allow time to make the 10-minute walk to Starbucks.

I crossed the big main street and headed down the tiny alley, dodging teetering piles of trash torn from the bags by stray cats, rotten fruit fallen from trees and random donkey droppings. For some reason, maybe the sun reflected off the apartment building just so, or the taxi horn blared at just the right moment off in the distance, or I don't know. But for some reason I suddenly had a very real flashback to the first time I walked down this same alley, three years ago.

We hadn't been in Jordan more than a couple of days at that time. We were living in a temporary apartment - my friend Faris lives there now - and a colleague of Bart's, a friend from RSO school way back when, took us to see our new house and neighborhood. We decided to walk to Starbucks so I'd know where it was, and I still remember how freaked out I was by that trash-strewn alley. It seemed dangerous and foreign and bad-things-will-happen-to-you-here, beware. We passed through the alley back then and onto a wider residential street before reaching our destination, and I breathed a sigh of relief to be out of the alley, though truthfully the street seemed just as foreign and frightening in its own way.

Today I took that same path and thought back three years. The trash still blows in the alley. The apartment buildings all still stand amongst the same vacant lots. But there - that's the pizza place that delivers to my house. And there's the florist who sells helium balloons for birthday parties. And the little market where I buy my bread and milk. They have everything I need in that little market. Not everything I want, mind you. But if I need it, I can usually find it there.

There's the stationary store where I buy pencils and scotch tape. Right out front I once watched two men brawling and cursing and spitting until one hefted a large metal street sign over his head and chased the other down the road as I tried to hide in a doorway.

And finally there was the Starbucks, the one where I sat and studied Arabic in the mornings those first few months, and where I now sometimes run into friends when I stop in. Just yesterday I was there with Shawn, feeling right at home, chatting away as we waited for our drinks.

Feeling right at home.

This is home for us now, three years on, and I suppose that makes for a boring blog sometimes, because I'm past the stage where everything is new and different, so my blog posts aren't quite as, I don't know, exotic, as they used to be, I guess.

This is just home now. The alley is just an alley, and the trash is always gonna be there.

When we arrived in Jordan, my youngest had only just turned 2, and my eldest was about to enter the 5th grade. Now? My baby will be a rising kindergartener as of tomorrow afternoon, my eldest an 8th grader. I guess that means I've aged three years myself, though I don't like to think of it in those terms.

My husband leaves here in a few more days. It won't be home for him anymore. But I still have a year to go. And even though there are things about this place that drive me crazy, still I have to say that I'm happy to be here, home, in Amman.

My last year begins the day my husband leaves. Which is, I suppose, why I had that brutal flashback this morning. I'm about to enter the next familiar phase - the year of counting down, the year of goodbyes, the year of loving, and leaving, and starting to shut down.

It was three years ago already that we moved here, but I'm not quite ready to believe that my goodbye year is beginning next week.

It seems too soon to say goodbye.


Lindsey said... [Reply]

Great post. Isn't it funny how so many places become home after you've taken the time to fill them with love? The thing that will make you feel like you never have to say goodbye???....making sure those that follow you know about your experience and what it taught you. I'd say this blog is a pretty darn good start. :)

Please. Write your own stuff.