the last grain in the hourglass

July 3, 2011 § 1 Comment

Ten months, 173 posts, 783 photos, and much too many adjectives later, I am nonetheless inept when it comes to this final post.

When faced with a daunting essay topic, many a haggard student employs the age-old introduction cop-out: the definition. Though usually too proud to sink to a “the Merriam-Webster’s definition of Morocco is…” opening sentence, the challenge of adequately encompassing my experience may get the better of me.

Morocco is a riddle I’ve barely begun to unravel. As my friend Ahmed says, the world has watches, but Morocco has time. If you understand that, you’ve doubtless realized that seeing is not just a verb for the eyes. The imperfections slowly fall into place and you step back and see how each strand is inextricably laced. What on its own would have been a frayed, discolored thread is made perfect when it joins the other pieces. And before I knew it, I, the most faulty and most inexperienced of all, was getting woven right into this new world.

I’ll never know if I was more of an outsider or an insider. It’s true that I learned to navigate the souk by smell, adopted certain phrases, marched in the streets for justice, jaywalked with stupid indifference, and was called a sister. But it’s also true that at times I felt like an overexposed photograph, a marionette cut loose on two wobbly legs, unbalanced, and homesick. It was often during these moments that I wrote. For you, dear reader, this travel blog may have been little more than an entertaining paragraph every few days, or a way to put anxious parents at ease. The truth is, I needed it the way lightning needs a sky canvas. I needed the therapy of organized, though usually incoherent, thoughts. I surely did not recount every experience and contemplation, but if nothing else these words have inched me a little closer to placing myself in the world and they’ve become as near as the blood in my veins.

In this finale I can’t possibly hope to include everything I’ve learned in what was truly a terribly short period of time. Among the floating impressions I would have like to include are: unspoken solidarity, resourcefulness and relentless durability, impossible beauty, and everlasting contradictions.

Instead I will focus on one. By far the most enduring, most dynamic, paragon of humanity is friendship. Before you go rolling your eyes, I’m not talking about your standard friendship; I don’t mean the kind declared on social network sites, the kind where you really just want someone to remember your birthday, or you get one more person to talk to at parties. What I mean to praise here, is a selfless friendship. As though a part of some ancient code of honor, the friends I’ve made on my jaunt around Morocco have proven that chivalry is not dead.

The type of friendships I’ve made here can be easily overlooked as hospitality, especially when one considers the short period of time in which they were developed. In our society, many friendships are slow-brewed, tested, and gained through favors or similar tastes in music.  However, in Morocco, all it takes is one encounter to become the lifelong friend (or sister!) of a new acquaintance. By the second encounter, you are surely greeted in with the warmest of salutations and pledges of loyalty. I admit, at times I was skeptical, wondering if there were private motivations behind the openness, and immediate claims to my amity.  With time, the sincerity melted my unbelieving heart.

I am flattened looking back to pick out the moments; they have been too numerous to count.  I will miss my friends desperately, as the same wander lusting that brought us together is the force that moves us apart. In a few short weeks I will be back on the side of the world where I was born, reintegrating into the society I spent months missing. And I will be missing the one I’ve left. Even the miraculous world of instant communication and cyber bridges to loved ones oceans away, can’t sooth the sting of missing friends.

The one solution I’ve found, and perhaps my whole journey led up to this realization, is that from now on, I will make a greater effort to be a selfless friend. In this way, maybe I can immortalize the time spent with my friends in the Maghreb, be a credit to their memory, and with a little incha’allah, hold a piece of Morocco in me for the rest of my days.

And so ends my story, set in the land whose intrigue produced One Thousand and One Nights, whose culture is as rich as the night sky, and whose beauty is as mysteriously ensnaring as the desert.

Please accept my sincere gratitude for reading along, for persisting through my blundering to share in the wonderful tradition of storytelling.   I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

السلام عليكم

هايلي

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§ One Response to the last grain in the hourglass

  • Nicole says:

    What a beautiful finale! Or should I say, muzzein? Your metaphors are perfect and your insight is exemplary. It’s been so fun to read along with your adventure. Even though everyone missed you terribly, I’m so glad you did this trip!

    I love you!

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