Back in the day I traveled to a far away land. Well, to me it was. What did a South Bronx girl know about Egypt? This one? Not much. I knew what is generally known. Its history, its geography and language. I even bothered to learn a few key phrases before going. I was fairly impressed with myself. I of course made all sorts of social faux pas. I wore shorts, ate a ton out in the open even though it was the observance of Ramadan, and maybe was a bit loud. Those were my first few days.
Then I observed. I acclimated. I learned. I showed respect. I grew. I had gone to someplace completely outside my realm of understanding due to lack of exposure. I didn’t run. I soaked it all in. Although, at certain points, I still went along with their belief that I was French. I figured it wouldn’t hurt if they thought I was French as it would allow me to not make Americans look bad. I know. It was pretty funny, though.
I was only there for two weeks. Seeing the pyramids up front was a completely moment of awe. I had only seen them on tv and in the movies till that point. The South Bronx girl in me was just floored to have made it that far. As I grew more comfortable each day, I also become more respectful and understanding. I also grew to love haggling.
I ended up buying very few things. But till this day I have four items left. I have two papyrus that I have framed but have left boxed up. I also have this jewelry box and a mirror. My little ornate mirror in which I cannot see any image at all. which I find perhaps a bit telling and a bit of a metaphor that I am still trying to figure out. The mirror was never really fully functional. Yet I have yet to throw it out. I don’t believe that I ever will. The same goes for the jewelry box that somehow just never really worked for me. Yet it follows me home after home.
The mirror is extremely clouded over allowing one to just see a fuzzy version of oneself. I think that is the version I saw of myself back then. perhaps I am Peter Pan. Little trinkets that remind one of a time where one was innocent or where one had a life learning moment shouldn’t’ be thrown out. I know we live in an age where many things are disposable and need to be digitized. However, this fuzzy metal mirror and my wooden (too long to be functional) box remind me of a time in which I learned to haggle, observe others and their cultures and be mindful of what I am contributing to the space around me. These are not going anywhere.