Amreekia Min Bab Al Sharayah

That was the name of my old blog. Translated, it means an American woman from the old, poor and rundown district of Bab Al Sharayah in Cairo. I was given this nickname because although I was born in the USA, my mentality is more ghetto Egyptian. I'm a curious mixture of east meets west, and dont care if you call me balady!

I'm going to slowly bring some of the old posts from Amreekia over here (see archives), basically to give new readers some background. I hope you'll enjoy the old and the new and join me on this fascinating expat journey!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


WOW!!!  Where do I even begin???  First I should say I am typing from my daughter's laptop and I hate the keyboard so expect some typos and God knows what else as I try to get this post up.  Next, yes I did arrive as scheduled after a HORRIBLE flight on nasty DELTA airlines.  I chose Delta from Expedia because it was the cheapest flight--cheaper even than Egypt Air which I thought was the worst airline flying but oh was I WRONG!!!  Delta is disgusttttttting.  Tiny seats, crappy food, and what has to be the tiniest plane ever allowed to fly transcontinentally--is that even a word???  I was so freaked out and claustrophobic on that damn plane I was about ready to have a panic attack.  Over the ocean I felt like I was going nuts and was one Xanax away from screaming for them to land the plane RIGHT NOW cuz I needed fresh air and sunshine.  Never, ever again will I fly Delta.  I am thinking to trash the return flight and pay to go back on Egypt Air.  And anyone who has ever flown Egypt Air will understand just how bad Delta must be from that statement.  Anyway...

My sweet daughter met me at JFK with a lively bouquet of about a zillion small roses--it was just soooooo sweet!  We drove through morning rush hour traffic, listening to Scott and Todd on the radio--oh how I missed them--and finally made it across the Verazano (sp) Bridge, Staten Island, then the Goethels into NJ.  We had breakfast at a halal restaurant in Newark--oh God breakfast hasnt tasted that good in soooo long.  It was a soul food breakfast--cheesy scrambled eggs, beef bacon and turkey sausage, and the best home fries ever!  Buttered toast and fresh, strong coffee.  It was truly to die for!  Got home to her lovely condo in the mountains of eastern NJ and just had a wonderful 2 days catching up. 

First night I was home my sweet baby girl surprised me by inviting her brothers and their wives over--wow!  All my kids together again right in front of my eyes!  Lots of tears and hugs!  It was just incredible!  Four days later on Saturday we went into Newark again to pick my darling husband up from the Amtrak station where he arrived from DC.  It was sooo wonderful to have him with us!  I didnt expect the next 8 days with him to fly by so fast, but between shopping and visiting the kids they did.  We took him to the airport this afternoon and he's now on his way back to Egypt.  I am trying hard not to lose it.  I miss him so much and honestly dont know how I will survive the next 2 months without him.  I may very well fly back earlier than planned cuz I just cant imagine these days without him.

My kids have been wonderful but they are all sooooo busy with their own lives.  We've managed 2 family gatherings in the 11 days I have been here but I dont anticipate another one any time soon.  Life here in the USA is faster paced than ever and their work and other commitments keep them on the go constantly.  So the more time I spend alone, the more I miss my husband and the slower pace of life in Egypt.  Definitely the maximum time away for further vacations will be 1 month!

The weather here is colllld and wet and lovely!  I missed weather!  I love the grey skies, the rain and the smells of Autumn.  I love the fireplace here in my daughter's condo!  I loved the walks my husband and I took in the early mornings when the air was so sharp it made our noses run and chapped our lips.  I do surely miss the climate and the seasons here in the USA.

Tomorrow we are planning a visit to the nearest mosque where my husband and son in law went for Friday prayer.  There is an interfaith discussion planned and I'd like to attend.  I so miss going to the mosque and having my life centered around it.  My husband already met the Imam there and encouraged me to be involved there while I am home here.  It sounds great to me. This coming week we will visit some old friends.  Also more shopping for things I'd like to take back to Egypt.  Hoping to spend some time with both of my sons in their homes.  Planning a day in NYC!  Am taking lots of pictures and will try to get some up here ASAP.

So that's the short of it for now.  I am happy here, but as I suspected, this is not home anymore.  I really feel like just a visitor--a tourist almost.  I'll be happy to get back and even happier to have the kids come to visit me in Cairo.  Will post about some other developments just as soon as I can.  Love to all!

Monday, October 5, 2009

The clock is ticking...

A little over 24 hours until my flight.  In fact this time tomorrow I will probably be waiting impatiently to board the plane at Cairo Airport.  I am going home.  For a visit.  I came here last May 9 and havent been back since.  17 months since I saw my kids--well except for an all too short visit from my daughter and her husband in March.  I didnt intend to make it this long without a visit home but stuff happens.  Things get in the way.  That's life I guess. But finally, finallllly, I am going home!

I have mixed emotions. Of course I am so happy I will soon see my kids. I am also thrilled the first 11 days will also be spent with my husband who is already there finishing up some work and waiting for me. He's only been gone since Saturday morning but my heart hurts with missing him so much. I'm also sooo looking forward to the Autumn weather which will turn to Winter while I am there. I miss rain and snow and falling leaves so much I cry just thinking about it. I'm excited about Thanksgiving and Black Friday and all the Christmas decorations, lights and music I will find in the stores. I miss Walmart! I miss so many things. I cant wait to drink it all in.

But at the same time, I must admit, Egypt is home. Yes...home. It took me a long time to feel this way but it's the truth now. For better and worse, this country is my home. I have to admit it's mostly because of my husband and the life we live here. Very happy together thank Allah. We've been married for nearly 14 months but I'd be lying if I said it didnt feel like maybe 20 or 30 years. We have grown very close and also established sweet little customs and daily routines that come now to me as easy as breathing. We know and love each other deeply, and understand each other so well. Together we have made a strong marriage and it's mostly for this reason I feel so at home here now.

I also have friends here now--and also helpers like my housekeeper and driver who make my life so much easier. I know how to get around everywhere and take care of most business. I love my home and being "just a housewife" (we all know there really isnt such a thing). So while I am thrilled beyond belief to be going back to the USA, I will be equally thrilled to come back here. In fact I wonder if I really will be able to last 2 whole months there. I have a feeling I might want to come back after 1 month but we will see. The plan is flexible. I am grateful to Allah that all my kids are very stable in the USA. All married and living life. I dont feel like they "need" me--I know they missed me and cat wait for me to come, but I am comforted tat they no longer depend on me--for their sakes. If it was up to me I'd keep them babies forever but that's no good for them. I am glad they are making it without me.

I spent the day doing laundry and cooking everything I had in the freezer into ready meals for my husband to heat in the microwave while I am gone. Thank GOD one of my adopted daughters came down from Port Said to help me these past few days. Without her I dont know how I would have made it. I almost had a panic attack today and if she hadnt been here I am pretty sure it wouldnt have been a pleasant scene. If I get too anxious I have a seizure and pass out and I dont know how I would have managed alone. God bless her really--she helped so much and kept me focused.

We are finally done doing everything we wanted to do today. The only thing left to do is finish the packing tomorrow--the last suitcase! I finally feel like I can relax. I am sure I will be all in a dither again tomorrow but I'll get through it. Everything always turns out OK as my son likes to remind me. And so the countdown continues.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The journey has begun...

My sweet husband left this morning for the USA.  In 4 days I will join him, insha Allah (God willing).  It's always very difficult to say goodbye.  As soon as he pulled away from the house, I was thought of all the things I should have done before he left.  Like take a picture of him at the door.  One last picture of just how he looked as he was leaving.  Also, we have this little ritual with my wedding we did when he first put it on my finger...we had vowed the ring would never come off.  Before he put it on my finger the first time, he kissed the ring, then kissed my finger, then slipped it on, then kissed the ring again on my finger.  A few days ago, while with the friend who's taking care of my Mom and the dog, we went to change some gold.  I wanted to sell my old earrings (I have 3 in each ear) and get some new earrings to match the ones my husband just got me for an anniversary present.  While in the gold store, my friend and I decided to have our wedding rings cleaned and polished.  So I had to take it off.  I forgot this morning to let him do that little thing he does.  I would have felt better, as I look at my ring now, if he was the last one to have put it back on my finger, if he'd kissed it and said like he always does..."forever".  I realize these things might sound strange and maybe even superstitious, but I learned when my first husband died, how much those little things meant to me, and how you never know if you'll get another chance to do these silly little things with the man you love.  Insha Allah we will be together again soon.

So he is off now and I have packing to do and a few minor things to arrange before I leave too.  But I still feel so scattered--not quite as bad but still disorganized.  I am going to sit now and make a complete list of everything I need to do and get on it.  I cant wait until I am sitting on that plane.  Actually, i cant wait to get to USA.  I've been away too long and am so anxious to be with my husband and kids again!

Going home...

I am a nervous wreck.  I mean I am a mess.  Both my husband and I are preparing for our trip to USA next week.  I feel like a long-tailed cat on a porch full of rocking chairs.  I mean I am stressed to the max and I dont even know why!  I have traveled so much and so far in my life...all kinds of travel, car, plane, train.  I dont know why this time I am so freaked out but I am.  My insides are shaking!

Before I actually leave Egypt I also need to make a trip tomorrow to friends to drop off my Mom and the dog, who will not be going with me.  I am afraid of my Mom traveling with this swine flu thing and believe she will be safer here with friends who are truly family.  She agrees.  I will return to Cairo on Thursday.

I still have some things to buy before I go.  There is some laundry to finish.  Need to have a few things hemmed at the tailor.  Of course I havent packed a thing.  Am also hoping to leave some meals in the freezer for my husband who will return from USA before I do.  I think I will feel much better once this mini-trip to drop off Mom and the dog is over.  Then I can think in peace and quiet and do everything else that needs to be done with no distractions.  I hope so anyway.  Because I really hate being this worked up, especially when I have no idea why.  I am happy and excited, but there's this crazy nervous thing going on too and I hate this feeling.  I guess it's because I have to be responsible for so many people besides myself.  I am over-extended.