After the birth of my beautiful niece, I am back in the Arab world. I miss her and my family already.
Back in the Arab world though... am I crazy that it feels like home here? Well, I don't even know what home is anymore... Texas? Jordan? North Africa? An airport perhaps?
Though our North African house is quaint and pleasant, its certainly not home. I do love it though. I am living in the 'Old City' of my town, within ancient walls dating back to the Ottoman Empire. (Perhaps longer.) Our home has a built-in ten foot hole in the roof which adds a charming touch. The hole serves as a weather forecast as it provides instant alert when its raining and also lets us know when the neighbors decide to slaughter geese. Last week we had downy feathers floating into our living room.
I strolled down to the beach in the late afternoon yesterday and for a moment I found 'home.' A soccer match was taking place in front of me between brown barefoot little boys. Grandmothers wearing pink and purple head-coverings pulled naked toddlers along the shore. I waved to them, singing, "Asalama" and "Salam Akaykum." Tanned teenage boys splashed in the water, avoiding the lines of the fishermen. The Call to Prayer was sounding, reminding the beach bums of their religious duties. The smell of shwarma was a reminder of a different kind- that soon their bellies would need nourishment. YES. This is home. This is me. White, freckle-faced, head-uncovered, English speaking me... finally at home.
At that moment three Arab men plopped down beside me. "Hullo! Duetchland? Russia?! English?! Hullo?! You no speak? Just friendship?" I rolled my eyes and scooted away. Five minutes later more Arab men came to the other side of me. "Welcome Tunisia! Speak French? No? English? No? Kiss maybe?" My moment was over. I stood up, dusting the sand out of my skirt, slightly hoping some might get in their eyes.
But that time yesterday on the shores of the Mediterranean (before the greasy guys joined me) touched a deep desire in my spirit. I wanted to carry that feeling with me, to store it away and take it out whenever I am homesick and let the contentment and peace of that moment on the beach wash over me continually. To be at 'home' forever.
I know my home isn't the Med or the Arab world. For every day that it feels like home and woos me with its charms and hospitality, there is also a day that it bruises me and beats me. No, this isn't home. But for that moment yesterday, it felt like home. It was a taste of my future home.. when Arabic-speaking grandmothers and brown little boys will join with white, freckle faced girls and together we will live and worship and play in a world (or kingdom) where we both completely belong.