Monday, January 21, 2008

Isn't that what you meant?

The dead mosquito splotches aren’t shaped like anything this year. I’m leaving them soon anyway, for the new ones on the new walls in the new house.

Ashora was yesterday, all the kids roamed the streets in a candied stupor in their miniature djellabas and babouches. Mohamed gave me some mixed nuts wrapped in wax paper and I felt vaguely Moroccan and included. I’m so pathetic on holidays, wishing everyone a happy one just so they’ll wish me one back and perhaps tell me what I could do later on, to appear more Moroccan (saunter the streets, comb hair, etc). I am forever fond of this particular celebration, as it brought the return of the packaged dried fig, so I can stop buying the mushy Ramadan leftover ones where each little stringy strand of fruit is actually a live worm writhing.

A short and festive attempt at fasting had put me in a sluggish daze, or perhaps the sleeping sickness caught up with me, but I managed to leave my laptop on a bench in a Grand Socco food stall after a late night snack that I had asked Mohamed to put aside for me earlier that day. Macbook slept there overnight. She was frightened and had wild nightmares of what men might do to her when they found her all alone. I didn’t realize she wasn’t with me until around six am, at which time I began to have similar visions and paced my street and the surrounding streets (does that count as pacing?) until someone showed up to open up shop, where Macbook was perched on the same bench where I left her, beside a box of half-eaten bread, cornering a splash of soup on the black vinyl cushion.

I pushed a little further in the same direction by locking myself out of my apartment a few hours later, and then spent two hours trying to get back in. It was in this interim that a kitten named Nora (because it rhymes with Ashora and because I was looking for something to name Nora) sat on my feet for a nap for no reason I can think of except that she loves me and knew it would keep me warm. She kept me company while I got through three chapters of Portrait of a Lady, stirring for nothing, not even the tipsy, oversized banana truck and Nora didn’t run away either. Eventually another tenant of the building showed up to open the street door and I made it back just in time to meet Miriem so we could walk to the mosque together and even managed to find a comfortable wall-spot before it was stolen by the miscellaneous limbs of surrounding women. Whenever I see a Rifi straw hat hung up on the spikes of the partition, complete with the multicolored tassels around the rim, I try to guess which woman it belongs to and I always guess wrong. This leads me to suspect that they don’t wear the red and white striped towel/sheet/blanket/rug (I’m tempted to refer to the as thneeds) for weddings, and this intensifies my mission to see a jbool wedding.

friendly sidenote: If I start doing this with ordinary words, could it be like a trick poem?

To encourage a mental recovery I made the short trek to the Oasis grocery store in hopes of splurging on my favorite cookies. I ran into my Spanish neighbor, on an actual “treasure hunt” designed by her boyfriend for her birthday. I can’t decide if this is romantic or adorable or a ploy to get her to buy all the necessary items for the dinner he had planned (when I spotted her she was holding several varieties of fancy cheese). It pushed me over the edge into a lovey mode, and got me asking my DVD vendor (only one of three left standing) for a movie “about love. A good story.” He searched for a few seconds before pulling something out with a confident thumbs up. The English translation of the Arabic title read “About love and affection. A good love story.”

The second day of Ashora was the first day of Spring in Tangier. Heartwarming, seeing as how I can assume my bedroom at home is still overlooking dirty mounds of snow and sludge. I celebrated by taking the three dirham taxi to Sweni. I must have been delirious from my flu meds to have ventured so close to Casa Barata on a Sunday, and a holiday, to boot. Something inside me could anticipate the nightly greeting from the cinema staff “where were you all day?” and just wanted to be able to respond, “Sweni!” I base a lot of my decisions on words. It’s a dangerous business.

The ride ends right across the street from my favorite apartment building in Tangier, all white with a row of nine windows with red shutters and the most beautiful laundry stuffed in the frames or hanging in the droop of the line tied between two frames. I brought all of my cameras and stole every angle of its rectangular soul. Groups of boys haggle me like I’m a spectator sport. Most of the harassments amount to “she’s taking a picture she’s taking a picture…she’s still taking a picture still taking a picture.”
Miriem lives across the street –that’s how I discovered the building in the first place- but I was still surprised to run into her. I’m thankful for it, I think it helped my street cred. She walked me to the main road and left me roaming free to photograph the men selling odd pairs of things, like cabbage and sheep, or cauliflower and sheep.
I wandered that street, flagging taxis that never stopped, long enough to see the bus stop crowd triple. I did eventually make it home in time to say goodnight to Bisoux and her brood, all nestled like sisters beside a pile of deep fried fish heads.

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