I feel like maybe my words are coming back to me after so long and that makes me happy. It’s a relief because writing is how I deal with my emotions. It’s cheaper than a therapist that’s for sure. And I can take it anywhere I go in this world.
Which is how I ended up sitting at my kitchen table in Algeria this cool Saturday evening.
I’ve been here in my new home, my new country, for eight days.
Basically, my mission has been to acclimate to the time zone change and all things relevant to jet lag. It’s been difficult. The first few days I was so exhausted. The next couple of days were tricky. I’d wake up for prayer at 5 am and stay awake because I’d have this burst of energy, only to feel like I could fall asleep standing up any moment. Another unnerving side effect of making a transatlantic flight is that for three days straight, I felt like I was on the airplane still when I would walk. The ground would, for lack of a better term, wobble under my feet as if I’d just hit turbulence at 33,000 ft. Thank God that went away!
My fiancé has been making sure to keep our home stocked with food and anything else I need while we wait to marry. Per cultural customs and Islamic rule, we are not living together until the day we marry. Technically we shouldn’t be spending time together at all, alone, but since I’m in a foreign country, know nobody but him and have yet to make friends – he must check on me. It’s just a necessity.
Slowly but surely, I’ve been getting to know our home. Trying out new recipes and marveling at the freshness of food. There’s a certain loveliness to being alone here most of the day. I’m able to still be autonomous.
I’m free to screech loudly the first time I use the bidet. (Yes, I’ve used a bidet before, but not one with such cold water.) Not used to cooking in an oven using Celsius? That’s OK. I can burn toast and nobody will know. Well, that is if I fan the house with the windows open as fast as possible. I mean who cares if the neighbors smell it. I won’t be able to understand them complain anyway! Not yet, that is.
I can also gawk at all the strange and new things in my home if I like. Such as the French and Arabic writing on the milk carton. I can also wrinkle my nose without fear of offending anyone when I taste said milk for the first time! Ha!
That’s not to say that I couldn’t or won’t do these things when we are married and living together. I will. Trust me.
I find myself leaving the TV off just to listen to the sounds outside to see if they are any different. Some are and some aren’t.
There are the hens and roosters who hang out in the garden area outside our French bedroom windows. I listen to them cackling and crowing at each other for hours in the morning. I’ve heard chickens before, I’ve raised them – but these are different for some reason.
There’s the distant hum of vehicles on the main roads.
The sound of a baby crying a few flats over.
Sheep bleating down the street.
There are also some nights that kids are relentless with fireworks in the neighboring streets. The first time I heard them I asked my fiancé what the sound was.
“It’s only fireworks,” he assured me, gently stroking my hair.
“Yes, I promise. Just kids,” he had said more assuredly.
Later he would confess that he thought I had been alluding to the fact that perhaps they were guns being fired.
I had been.
I’m happy. I am happier than I have ever been in my whole life. With the exception of giving birth to my son.
Fear has not followed me here.
Hate has not followed me here.
Oh, it tries to creep in – the hate that is. By way of online interactions with “friends” and “family”. Little passive aggressive comments here and there that do not go unnoticed by me.
I have “friends” who blame me for leaving them behind. Ruining their lives by moving on with my life. (Susan – I am NOT talking about you here.)
Funny thing is – I had always been around. Available for those friends to come visit. To call, text or even briefly Facebook message me. However, I wasn’t special enough to them. Not until I packed up and moved my life to North Africa, that is.
I suspect I’m not even that special now to them.
My guess is that they are upset with me for being brave and following my heart to be happy. To be loved. Upset with me because they are stuck in their own bubble, afraid to reach out with the pin and pop it. Scared that something might happen.
Something like happiness.
Some will say that I am boasting about my courage. I don’t and won’t ever see it that way. I am very humbled by the bravery I’ve found. I am merely stating what I see with my own eyes. What I feel with my own heart and my own intuition.
I am happy.
One week down – the rest of my life to go.