Ifrane is a sleepy town. Nothing starts early. No one starts early. The weekend days are long and lazy. The week days start just a tad sooner, the hustle is in the first morning hours when the sun comes around and then it dies. Before 8 and after 9 nothing exists but God. Between those two hours students rush to school, parents rush to work and maids and nannies rush to houses. People come and people go and then it is all silent again; silent and slow.
I have always been a morning person; always having the most energy right after I wake up. I crave the morning intensity, the stores that open early, the terrains that are safe to explore with the sun. In Portland we had our porch, both front and back, for these hours. In Arlington we had our neighborhood. Here, I have the kitchen/living room; and the kids. I like to get up and go in the morning, but here I get up and stay. I stay with my family, with my loved one, with myself.Today I sit and type and look around me. There are boxes everywhere. Our belongings have finally arrived and we are reunited again. For the past six weeks I had been “recycling” clothes, wearing the same pants over and over again and stretching their cleanliness as much as I could. I had a couple of shirts and I rotated them around, hand washing them each morning for the next day. JR and Yousef had close to no toys and we got creative with what we had. Empty plastic boxes became bath toys, powder food coloring became paint, cotton buds became brushes. A blanket doubled up as a rug, and our laps served as a high chair, our arms as a standing support. We borrowed books from the school, toys from the neighbors and company from strangers. We filled up our time with walks, with trips to the market, with time in the sand. We lived with very little, and many times it was enough.
Now we have “real” toys, many books, actual entertainment. I have my toiletries, my spices, my calcium supplements. I open box after box and find the treasures I had buried there in a split second amidst the packing: oatmeal from the bulk section at Whole Foods, chia seeds from a bag we had bought there last Fall, herbal tea from my close friend in New Hampshire, the maple syrup she had shipped to us as a gift. I find gifts for the kids, treats that Teta and Jeddo had bought for JR, shoes purchased on sale from Nordstrom, a photo of JR and me that used to sit on Jeff’s desk in DC. I see outfits that JR used to wear as a baby brought over for Yousef to don. Toys she used to play with, now resurrected for both her and her brother’s pleasure. I reunite with the homeschooling books, the dry erase crayons, the calculator. Our picnic blanket, the cooler bag, the shoe organizer. We are back to having the bumbo seat, the excersaucer, the portable potty. Things that would have served us much better weeks ago are now here in time for the kids and I to leave them again.
These boxes and their contents take me back; they take me to where we had been, where we came from. They remind me of a time now long gone. A time where things were in abundance, in relative order, in relative harmony. Everything had its place, although we did not have much space. Was it better there? It was different. It was familiar. It was home. Most of it is here now. I over-packed. Lots of clothes, more clothes than occasions to wear them. Too many coats, too many towels. More socks than a need for them, more variety than necessary. We have even less space. I look around and wonder where I am going to put all of this “stuff”? Where I am going to use it? It makes me wish I had not packed it all, not bought so much.
It is too late now, though. What is here is here and what is left behind is left behind. I had imagined a life where I would wear this and that, where the kids would need this and that. It was a different vision than our reality. We had been promised more space, more rooms, more area. We had packed accordingly. We did not get what we were told. Now I see us living with our stuff again, looking around for places to store them. I repack many things; some clothes leave one box, only to find their fate in another. Many towels go back into the bottom of these boxes, some toys do not even make it out. The boxes get relabeled, put away again. Stashed in a corner, covered with a sheet, waiting to be rediscovered once again.
All this makes me wonder: The bags, boxes, packing paper. The clothes piled on the couch, those dangling from the chairs. The toys strewn all around, those that are being played with. It all takes me back and brings me here, past and present, like the waves on a beach. Quick, moving, fleeting. What’s the use in wondering? What’s the point in transcending? This is here now. We are here now. We make the most of it.
The sun is coming up. The sunrise is beautiful in Ifrane. The pink and orange and yellow against a pale blue and stark white. The birds are chirping. The kids are waking up. In the next room Yousef is rolling over, crying out for Mama. JR is calling for milk. Jeff is getting up. I am snatched from my reverie, from my writing, from my time. Life is calling. Time to go.