I will return home with images and stories and moments and
I will lay them out neatly on a platter for those who ask me what I did with my summer.
I will tell them about the mountains, and the mosques and the milky way,
About the bread and figs and caramelized onions,
About the blue walls of Chefchaouen and the light of the morning in mud huts.
Their eyes might glaze over and they might say,
Wow, sounds incredible, sounds life changing.
Well, it was. But not in the way that you’d think.
Because in my stories about café conversations with strangers over sweet tea,
and of climbing mountains and eating peaches in the rain,
there is little loneliness to be shared.
In my stories of leading workshops with Berber women from mud villages,
Of serving a community to further a project of economic empowerment,
It is hard to articulate the uselessness that I so often felt.
In the images of teaching an artisan to use a camera,
there is little frustration and impatience that I can make you feel.
I will tell you these stories, but I will not build up the barbed wire barriers of communication that I sifted through for so many weeks.
But yet, these muddy waters of miscommunication and emptiness and aloneness were indeed what made it so life changing.
I met myself for the first time.
Spent time with her, saw her quirks and jagged edges and sensitivity to silence.
I wandered in the wonders of my own fears,
I was brave, and foolish and triumphant and impatient and scared,
I was present.
When I am asked what it is I did with my summer, I will say I was stability searching, and that I don’t know if I ever found it.
With bruises on my hips, dried tealeaves in my bag and pages of stories to tell, inchallah, I will come home.