Nomadism

The Next Move

An ancient photo but it looks about right. Complete with the strange guy peekng over our heads in the background!

An ancient photo but it looks about right. Complete with the strange guy peekng over our heads in the background!

We’re moving! That is what we keep telling everyone.  Moving is what we do. In the past, it seemed that our desire to move in and out of countries and cultures has often been stronger than our need for a home. With two children now, the need for some kind of is gaining priority but the urge to move on at least just one… ok, maybe two more times is a light that never goes out. So we are going. To Morocco. No, New York City..or Abu Dhabi, UAE… or New York City. Wait, what about Spain!? This is part of what happens to people who have few mental, and cultural barriers that would keep most people in the place they are familiar with. We have experienced feeling familiar almost everywhere and equally unfamiliar or foreign in the countries we were born and grew up in.

Some people around us are on the edges of their seats. Many more are rallying around us, encouraging us to make this choice or that choice. Lately we are wondering if the choice is even ours. We have to find jobs  or at least one job first. We have to know that there will be childcare and schools that are good for our kids. With so many moves and experiences under our belts at this time, we have the added dimension (pressure) of trying to make sure we learn from the past.

Fifteen years ago I moved around the world by throwing a dart at a map. Today it’s much more complex. That complexity is completely throwing me for a loop this time! It can be so challenging on certain days that I get trapped in a circle of questioning and comparing pros and cons. Every morning I wake and say “What will happen?”

That’s where it all lies here on this darkening winter Tuesday afternoon. Where will we go next? Will we go at all? Does it matter where we go? If we go?

Have any of you moved abroad with small children? Had you lived abroad before? how did you choose where to go? Tell me your stories!

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Categories: Morocco, Nomadism, UAE, Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

Nomadic Homesick Blues

When you are a nomad, what does it mean to be homesick?

 I currently take Harvard Square for granted. Today, I walked into the Harvard book store and read five pages of a book that made me cry. I looked around the room and I saw this very cozy, very warm and stable room, anchored down with books. Ten years ago I sat here all the time. I would come and pull a pile of books and sit on the floor and read them. I’m not sure I was supposed to do it that way, but no one ever told me not to. Then I went away. Like I have told you before, I went to Morocco and Turkey and the UAE. From those places, I went to India, Thailand and Oman and maybe some other places that are slipping my mind for the moment. And while I was in those places, I would think about the Harvard bookstore. I even had a friend take a photo of it for me once and bring it to me when she came to Morocco. I stared at that photo and I felt homesick. I longed for Harvard Square. I missed the familiar feeling of it. I missed the people around me reading books. How those people have many different thoughts and perspectives and how it is often possible to sense that those people accept the differences among them.  I missed it being a place where I could go and disappear. In most of the countries I named above, it is incredibly difficult to disappear. Everyone stares. Americans don’t stare nearly as much as they must want to. Don’t we want to?

So now I am back here. I even work in Harvard Square. I walk past the Harvard bookstore every single day. I rarely go in, due to my grown-upfulltimejobmotherhood lack of free time. But it’s there. Here. It’s here and I am here. And today while I waited for the bus, I looked out across Harvard Square and I realized that I take it for granted. And for a moment I stopped. I looked at it and I felt the feeling of it -the lovely brick buildings, the ideology of American education that is Harvard University, the gutter punks, the tourists, the shops and the famous old newsstands, the subway station and the Unitarian church with the rainbow flag waving. I breathed it in. I am in one of the most liberal cities in the USA. I love all this.

But damn, am I homesick.

Moroccan taksheta.

I haven’t hennaed my hands since before my son was born in September 2010. My clothes have gone quite conservative – jeans and trousers, turtleneck sweaters, blazers, and clogs as I naturally begin to blend in with those around me. My Indian “suits” have slowly disappeared from my wardrobe, along with my long flowing scarves, catching the wind behind me as I glide through an Emirati mall or an Indian bazaar. Our hefty collection of oil-perfumes: musks, frankincense and amber is dwindling. My husband never wears a djelleba or a gondora here. I miss the endless cups of tea and the circles of women, gabbing or the circles of men playing drums, drinking wine. I am mashing all of my countries together. I am missing everything and also very specific things. Aren’t I from these places too? Wouldn’t it be better if…? Wouldn’t I be happier, wouldn’t I feel fulfilled, won’t things have finally all come together when we finally get back to….. Fill in the blank. I seem to say these things about every place I have lived in and then left.A Turkish engineer in Bursa once referred to me as Marco Polo. The Arabs have their own Moroccan born Marco Polo, called Ibn Battuta, travelling the globe, fitting in – finding himself everywhere he went. So the legend says.

Do the Bedouin long for the seaside in the winter while they camp in the desert? Do visions of the chilly winter desert nights tug at their heartstrings while spending their summers fishing in the Gulf? Is it possible for a nomad to ever be completely in the present? Hasn’t she left little pieces of her heart everywhere she has been?

Categories: Morocco, Nomadism, UAE, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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