There is chaos in Cairo and we have not heard from our daughter Annie in 2 1/2 days. We are glued to the live-stream from Al Jazeera, currently watching repeats of video clips shown earlier in the day. Tahrir Square in the center of Cairo is the focal point of much of the chaos. Footage of angry crowds, burning vehicles, and soldiers in riot gear run continuously across the screen and we are acutely aware that Annie is in a flat just a few blocks away. Despite the State Department phone call that came from Washington DC earlier in the day stating she was fine, we want to hear from her. We yell at the TV screen when our public officials make statements that seem ignorant of the reality on the ground and we’re cheering on those that voice an understanding of the cultural divide between East and West and the need to understand just how frustrated Egyptians are, the voices of reason amid noise.
All the media tools of 2011 are useless against my growing concern. Twitter, Facebook, Gchat, Gmail, cell phones, Google voice, Skype – none of them are a weapon against the seed of panic that’s rising from my gut to my throat. When I became a mom the chink in my armor was revealed. It came in the form of a 6 lb. 14 oz sweet-smelling baby girl named Annie and suddenly vulnerability had a whole new meaning. It’s that piece – the deep sensitivity and knowing that I want to be with her to make sure she’s safe that takes over as I madly write her an email, wanting it to be in her inbox to view as soon as she can log in to her Gmail account.
My head knows she’s probably ok, surrounded by her strong community of friends, each of them developing their narrative to share with parents and friends once the global world is again at their fingertips. Thinking ahead to playing the game two truths and a lie where one of the truths is “I was in Cairo during the “Day of Rage” on January 25th, 2011″ and having a great story to tell their children. And anyone that knows Annie knows that she loves being in Cairo, right in the middle of life in “Umm el Dunya” (Mother of the World) able to reconnect to part of her past through her present.
My heart – that’s the part that needs convincing. That’s the part that puts the cell phone ringer at the highest pitch possible to catch that call from Cairo, no matter what time of day or night. It’s the part that keeps the computer on all night to hear that distinctive Skype ring wake me from my sleep just to hear that my grown-up, 25 year-old, very capable baby girl is just fine.
Epilogue: And the call came – 3:15 am “Hi Mom and Dad, we just got cell phone service and I’m safe and sound!”