Monday, April 6, 2009

So this has been a bit like a dress rehearsal awaiting opening night. All anxieties and fluster of remembering what I forgot and realizing I have taken care of things better than I thought because I'm somewhat practiced at this by now.
I packed my small suitcase with most of my clothes and put it inside my large suitcase with a few more clothes so that I can end up with space to bring things home though now I wonder if I should still leave some more behind.
Last night I stayed up so late getting art work to an acceptable leaving off place for the time being and washing and cleaning so I can come home to a decent place. I've turned into my mother, or at least I've hung on to a few of her skills that I realize now make my life much better by anticipating and taking care of things so they don't pile up and get out of control. It's the taking on of new skill sets that bewilders me and unfortunately it is true what I heard when I was younger, that it is harder to learn some things when you get older, not because I'm less intelligent, but because I have more on my mind and it is harder to set aside the bulk of existence and only focus on what needs to be learned. I suppose if I had learned better how to learn with more self discipline when I was younger it would not seem daunting now...but it does.
Anyway, I have to try to face forward and see the world in front of me. I remember when I was a child on the Queen Frederica going across the Atlantic, standing in the bow and feeling the wind and seeing the expanse of ocean as far as the eye could see in every direction. It was exhilarating and I hope I can do that again too.
When I was nine and we went first on the longer voyage from New York to Piraeus Greece where we stopped for a few days and then took a depressingly shabby ship called The Lydia to Alexandria. The sea was rough and there were squals. There were peasants riding "deck class" on the deck so there was none of the fun and freedom there had been on the other ship. I was bored and restless. Finally a day or two later I looked out the port hole and got to scream out LAND! I SEE LAND, we're there.
Shortly before we left Berkeley in October of 1957 when my mother first told me and my sister that we were going to Egypt she made us promise to not tell anyone, but the day before we left I could not contain myself and I remember hop/pushing a tricycle I had out grown down the street and shouting out as loud as I could 'I'M GOING TO EGYPT' I could not contain my excitement.
This time I'm a little more grounded and I made a lunch for the flight tomorrow with sandwiches and carrots and celery and an apple, probably more food than I can eat, but I guess better than not enough and maybe I'll meet someone who is hungry. You never know.
When I was nine Cairo was pungent with smells uncommon in American cities, a traffic jam at an intersection might consist of several horse carts a diesel but a few camels, some laden donkeys and numerous push cart vendors all trying to go in different directions. There were smells of manure and diesel fumes and butane gas and dust. I imagine it will be different now.
So it's time to quiet the butterflies in my stomach, remember I have Narcissus and Goldmund to keep me company and some little books of Chinese philosophy to think about, a note book and mp3 players. It's not the fifties anymore.

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