Returning home on the train to Casablanca from Fes, I felt victorious that I made it back okay. Walking the streets with my producer I was reminded of people from my past. Similar faces brought back flashes of happiness.
The bearded woman sat at the same corner as 6 years before, the cafe owner near the gate remains the same but one face was absent and that was the wild woman with the stick that threatened to beat up men. I wondered if they finally locked her up for good which made me sad because I always saw myself in her. That city makes women crazy. I almost went insane and that is why I watched that woman and wondered if it would be me one day if I stayed living at the edge of the Medina. I was there fresh out of college on my Fulbright and deeply in love and in denial living my private life without boundaries. I have avoided that city for some 6 years and to be back without any weight was welcome.
If any sad memory started to enter my mind I practiced keeping the past in the past.
As I left the cafe I sat at each week in Fes with Amanda I noticed a new waiter working there this morning. As I went to pay him he asked me, “What do you do when you don’t get what you want?” I was taken aback by his question to me in polite English. He was alone and sincerely asking that of me probably thinking I get everything I want in life. I said, “Think as positively as possible.” I wished and hoped that I too can be brave enough to reach out to strangers when I need to do so.
Maybe it was the universe trying to re-heal old wounds. Everyone was kind this week in Fes, from the man who accidentally asked if I wanted a “Big Cock” at McDonalds when he wanted to ask if I wanted a “big Coke” or the teenage cybercafe guy who exchanged a smile as my phone made his computer alarm, or the taxi drivers who apologized for yelling at me or who asked for a blessing for their daughters future careers in journalism…the city came together and kissed me collectively although I tried to resist and put up a tough face that it could not get me down, it could not impact me, it would not hurt me again—I protested again and again to myself.
As I made my way through interviews I heard Hebrew all over the festival and smiled brightly or found myself staring in silence trying to hear each word and it made my heart race. One person noticed me staring and said, “I am speaking in Hebrew.” I realized myself and said, “Yes I know. I just wanted to hear you speak a little.” The sound of Hebrew made me transfixed. It sounds like love to me. I want to lay in their words and language in song lyrics and the sound of people’s mouths I love.
Life is healing, Hebrew is love, and Fes did not bring me down.