There have been moments in my life that have defined me. Moments that changed my direction completely, flipped me around and threw me into the wind. Times that left me broken, or breathless. I have specific moments in my life that I remember thinking “how will I ever get through this” and here I have come out the other side. I’m stronger. I’m a fighter. Who knew?
Having my daughter was the first moment like that for me. I had nightmares about the immense changes that were ahead when I looked down at my giant belly and knew that inside was not only a baby but a new identity. I didn’t know if that new me would be better or worse. If I would be a failure. If I would ruin her little life. The pressure was all-consuming. I have a huge heart and for ten months that heart was filled with worry and fear. When she was born, I was born. I was a grayscale version of me before her. When I stepped across that threshold and held her tiny hand, we crossed together into a technicolor wonderland. She unlocked parts of my heart that I wasn’t aware were closed. She is the best of me. The best of my husband. She is everything.
Other times have caused that pit in my stomach, sense of doom, everything is changing feeling. Having my son and wondering if there was a centimeter more room in my crowded heart for him. (Thankfully he doubled my capacity for love and blew my freakin’ mind at how much a person could adore another person.) Moving to Egypt left me full of doubt. Would I change? For better? For worse?
Thankfully, Egypt has changed everything. It has strengthened my faith, tightened my already tight little family, and opened my mind that I never realized was closed. But now I find myself wondering about what this means. I don’t want this new me to wear off when I leave. I feel like a better me here. I am a better me. I am more thoughtful, resolute, and strong even when I feel I’m at my weakest. I have been floored by new friendships that have changed me and pushed me into the sun to help me grow. I don’t want to go back home where life is easy. Where Starbucks isn’t a complete luxury and worth the hour drive in harrowing danger. I’m scared to re-enter my society. Will I fit in? Will I have grown into a person who no longer has a place at home?
Living in Egypt is indescribable. As a person who is never at a lack for words, I was shocked that I couldn’t even put a simple blog post together because I couldn’t accurately describe what I was seeing and feeling. I couldn’t describe my life here. I still can’t. When I try to explain it to my Mom, it sounds silly and superficial. I feel like I need to stick a Go-Pro on my head for a week and then share it on YouTube. How else could anyone get it? The knots in my shoulders at the end of every day. The stress of just taking the kids to school every day. Or the unsettling feeling, as an adult, to be spending half my time waiting on the sidewalk for a driver or a friend to take me where I need to go. I have no control here. I can’t do anything by myself. I can’t speak the language, or read it. If I leave my little 5-block bubble, people stare at me and take pictures, or come over and try to kiss the kids on the mouth. Life is inherently stressful, in ways I can’t explain, so much so that I have constant back and shoulder pain from the stress of life.
But this is good.
This is changing me.
I am new here.
I’ve got to admit, I’m getting better. Getting better all the time. :) (The Beatles, baby!)
I won’t ever fit in here, but that’s okay. I can’t. I won’t ever be able to read Arabic, but that’s okay too. I can speak enough to stumble through and that’s alright.
But I will always appreciate a blue sky with puffy white clouds and the smell of cut grass. I don’t have that most of the time. I continue living in absolute envy that all my friends and family can go to Target anytime they want. You are living the dream, people. I will also continue to dream about bloomin’ onions and Olive Garden breadsticks. Four seasons are pretty great.
It’s also great to have friends from 10 different countries. To talk openly about religion, politics, and life with people who challenge you and whom you hold in high regard. I am going to come away from this experience richer and fuller. I don’t know who I will be in another year, but after a year in Egypt, I can tell you Sheryl Crow had it right all along.