Monday, June 1, 2009

(not) Easy Like Sunday Morning

It’s Sunday. You wake up at 11 and laze around your bed, your room, the pile of not-dirty-enough-to be-washed-but-too-dirty-to-go-back-in-the-dresser laundry that turns out to be useless because you didn’t get dressed anyway. You wander into the kitchen and, for lack of ability to make a decision, put the kettle on, figuring that by the time it boils, you’ll know if you want coffee or tea or nothing at all. The fridge has eggs, the cupboard has cereal and you debate from your seat at the small, round table in the middle of the small, square kitchen. Halfway through the bowl of cereal, you realize an omelet would have tasted really good. And you realize you forgot about the hot water – in fact, you forgot the passage of time altogether and look up to find, with a heavy guilt that sinks to your unsatisfied stomach, that it took 2 ½ hours to eat a bowl of cereal that you didn’t even really want. You think about reading a book, going for a run, or washing that laundry, but instead flick through television stations until your own lethargy overwhelms you. You call a friend and suggest an afternoon showing at the local movie theatre. You’ve been meaning to see the movie and it would almost be like eliminating something from that mental checklist (good thing your mom isn’t there to argue that one should start at the top of the checklist, with things like filling out job applications, writing your blog post, cleaning your room (only mom would put that at the top) … ☺).
The movie starts at 5:00 and, as the reviews suggested, ‘draws you into a never-ending matrix of whimsical fantasy and unsettling conspiracy that leaves you gasping’. At the end of the film, in a half-dream, half-other-worldly state, you wobble out of your own imagination and into the real world, where the wind is blowing with a fierceness and coldness that wasn’t there in the slowness of afternoon. It’s nearly 7:00 and nearly dark – that post-sunset, pre-twilight time of the evening that is unsettling even when you haven’t spent the last two hours engulfed in an intense other-reality. The world seems completely different from how you thought about it 10 minutes ago, when the hero of the film was taking his last, tragically beautiful breaths. And completely different from when you walked into the theatre, in full daylight, with a feeling that the world had nothing to offer you besides responsibilities you simply didn’t want to meet. You must have crossed some time warp or geographical boundary when you walked out of the theatre, you think, as you pause to balance your legs and your consciousness at the threshold of the box office, because the whole world around you feels completely different, like there is a completely new set of rules, like maybe gravity doesn’t even apply anymore.
Now do that a dozen times a day.
Welcome to life in Morocco.
This place, I am discovering, is not just one place. It is a crazy, incomprehensible, infinitely layered and infinitely sneaky black hole of worlds colliding, interconnecting, fighting and simply living side-by-side. When I first arrived, I didn’t notice. I stayed in the world that had welcomed me: Fatima’s house, people who smiled when I spoke Arabic, trust for the shopowners I befriended and coming home by 9, because people said it was dangerous after that. I stayed in school, concentrated on school, lived in Fatima’s grotto and ate her food, loving the Morocco that I was beginning to know. That was comfortable but as it turns out, Fatima, and the world she helped build around me, was an incredible protector and managed to shield me from a lot of other realities in this country. But shweeya b shweeya, slowly slowly, they are being revealed to me.

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