As a mom who is miles away from all but one of her children, I am acutely aware of my inability to protect them. There are also times when I realize how much I don’t know about their lives. This awareness reached a new level when I read a post that my daughter had written from February 6th on living in Cairo, specifically downtown Cairo. So today’s post is a guest post from that day by my daughter, Annie. It is a reminder to me that Egypt is fragile, and people live everyday within the fragility. It is a reminder to pray for Egypt and for those who live there, both Egyptians and others.
Started a meme in my head, “You know you live Downtown when…” It goes something like this. YOU KNOW YOU LIVE DOWNTOWN CAIRO WHEN:
- You carry your gas mask with you, everywhere, just in case.
- You carry loads of cash, in various pockets, all over your person, just in case.
- Your getaway bag is packed and ready if need be, right next to the cat carrier, just in case.
- You walk down your street, thank the young man who is at the ready to spray saline solution into your gas-afflicted eyes, and carry on your merry way.
- You direct your guests first to the baking soda, with which to wash their burning face, then to the arak which is somehow the only alcohol you have insanely copious amounts of.
- You begin to notice that your tolerance for this gas stuff is a lot higher than others’.
- You’ve developed a significant prescription drug habit.
- You begin to prefer walking alone; others’ skittishness during gas-induced stampedes impedes your own perfected ability to walk calmly and quickly in any given situation.
- Your ear is trained to know which bangs warrant going onto the balcony, and which don’t. (Fireworks are worth it; the displays are always well-done, bless you football fans)
- When the police are out, you don’t leave the building.
- You check Twitter to make sure you can get home, even though you’re fully aware of how largely useless it is.
- You resent your friends for not checking the news before they talk to you, you resent your family for not being more worried about you, you resent acquaintances for telling you to “be safe”.
* * *
Today, a G-Chat with Tony:
me: tony I am worried about reintegrating into a society where there aren’t bombs and gunshots always
Knowing you have to get out (sanity? I guess?) but knowing that you can’t. Knowing that, just like last January, just like October, November, next week will be different. Next week will be art shows and dinner at Greek Club and late-night screaming matches at Stella and dinner parties and brunch at the CFCC and buying your produce just like nothing ever happened.
The thing I learned is that humans are so simultaneously fragile and resilient.