This Holiday has been a whirlwind of travels, with 3 very different vacations on 3 different continents, with me ending up safe and warm back in Fes in the New Year, with a refrigerator full of mold and a heart full of warmth. I will treat each segment of my holiday break in a different blog post, and will have photos up as soon as possible. (Uploading photos is my eternal struggle, thanks to the internet which works on “Moroccan time”, ie: whenever it feels like it.). But first, I want to recount my birthday.
I will first say a big Thank You to all who celebrated my birthday, from wherever you are in the world. I could feel the love big time. Lovely Fulbrighter Kristin came to Fes from Rabat and spent the night, just for the occasion, and took me out for Fessi Fruit Salad Breakfast. That evening after classes, friends assembled in the Red Tent for a cheery birthday/holiday/last-hurrah-before-we-all-part-ways-for-the-break/let’s-party-the-night-before-our-final-exam Party. Desserts and cheeses and fruits and wine and spiced apple cider (!) and hot cocoa with marshmallows freshly imported from the US of A by Caitlyn’s brother Jordan, who came to Maroc for a wee visit before they both struck out to backpack Eastern Europe. Cait bought me Argon Oil, which is produced only in Morocco and is known for its medicinal and cosmetic properties. Rod got me Baileys Irish Creme…and an autographed picture of the King! No lies. You have to see it to believe it. Mustapha brought pointy green babouches to match my new jelaba, and a stuffed dog on the behalf of Said. Jesse and Cherry got me a gorgeous green silk scarf, and if I could marry it, I would. Becca and Kristin brought imported chocolate and wine, and Matty baked a crustless sweet potato pie.
It was really a special time, and in between mugs of cocoa nipped with Baileys (shoutout to Rodney), I sat back and smiled deeply at the love that surrounded me. It felt like Christmas back home. These people, who were all strangers 4 months ago, have become my family. It’s hard to believe that I’ve only known them since this summer, and some even less. Cait organized everyone to give me “imaginary presents” (best tradition ever, btw) and they really showed their creativity. I made off with quite an imaginary haul:
-a 4-seater tandem bike fully equipped with riding partners Kofi Annan, David Bowie, and Jim Miller (shoutout!)
-a gluten-free oven that bakes any GF delight I desire
-round trip airplane tickets to the Motherland (The Philippines)
-a working pilot light for our hot water heater
-peace on earth and good will toward men (so basically I’m out of a job)
-a continent-shrinking machine so Dave and I could be closer
…America’s finest, y’alls. Despite having a final exam the next day, we laughed and chilled and life was as it should be for just in that moment.
Just as February marks a tough spot for me every year, December is always a very reflective time. Because of the concurrence of my birthday (another year older, yikes!), Christmas (the holiday that started it all for me), and the New Year , I usually take some intentional time to take stock of what was, what is, and what is to come. 2009 was an incredible year. I graduated, moved to Morocco and began to set up a life for myself. I say “began” because I feel like I am still getting to know the place. I am still intro-ing into the culture and language and have yet to really get my research rolling. (Technically, I’m not even allowed to start my research until Mid-February).
I have seen other lives transform this year as well, and it has impacted me. Dear friends have gotten married and had children and started grown-up jobs and experienced great loss. Both my brother and sister got married this year, so I added a new sister and brother (shoutout!)
One year ago at this time, I remember worrying over post-graduation jobs and looking into 2009 as some gigantic uncertain haze. But now I see how all the threads were connecting to bring me exactly where I needed to be….and where I am now: on Edris and Julie Makward’s couch in their villa in Imi Ouazzar, 14 hours south of Fes. On Vacation #3. Allow me to explain how I ended up here...