Friday, July 3, 2009

My Alexandria

I truly wished that I was a better writer, so you'd enjoy what I'm about to write as much as I did... I am not, and that's a fact. But that's also okay; because the truth is, I am writing it so I can remember it, re-live it- if you will. through these clicks of the keyboard, where I stop and remember, or where the memories come gushing back all at once, crowding my thoughts and impairing my choice. I want to write everything, all the details, the familiar scents of a place locked up for more than half of the year, the dust that accumulated. The sound of the sea, of children at play. And much much more. Instead, I am left with my limited ability, this limited space, and your stolen time from loved ones, from busy lives and your patience. So bear with me, I am really trying here. Thank you!

We owned ( and still own) a nice villa by the Mediterranean sea in Alexandria, Egypt.
I can clearly remember when the brick stones were still dusty and bare. Glaring from the sun in their earthy tone, against the light blue skies, and the white clouds. The garage path was still not paved and the lot in-front of the villa was just dirt topped with piles of sand and cement, instead of green grass. I would ride my big red car (I couldn't reach the pedals yet, my feet were too short.) all around the property.

Every once in a while my sister, my brother and me, would jump in the sand piles joined by the worker's kids, or the security guard's kids ( I can't remember which.) Later in the day my mom would spray stuff in our hair and brush it with a tight comb to get rid of the lice that traveled from the workers kids hair to ours. It was all worth it!

The house got finished over a couple of summers, and we spent our entire four month school vacation there every year. Starting with sleeping on a mattress on the floor in the one finished bedroom, then upgrading to our own rooms ( sorta, both my elder sisters shared a room, me and my twin sister shared the other. As for my brother, he slept in my parents master bedroom.)

The ride from our place in Cairo, to the Alexandria villa, took exactly three hours and a half (including a rest area stop). They felt like forever( as does anything for kids my age at the time.)

My mom made sure to bring lots of entertainment, though. With two grown ups and five kids. Tea and snacks were a necessity not to be taken lightly. And frankly the trip would not have been the same without our big blue Coleman cooler that my mom stuffed with: three different kinds of cheese, jam, hard boiled eggs, cold cuts, pita bread and milk. She also brought cups, napkins, and a thermos full of hot black tea. We ate, drank, sang, slept, sang, clapped and ate some more. We stopped in mid-way for restrooms and stretches then continued till our destination.

Alexandria, to me was that villa. I could've sworn, the second that white two story building came in sight. I almost gasped or fainted from utter joy. One time my eldest sister wrote her name on one of the walls to tease me. I cried so hard that day, my eyes almost fell out. How could she, she knows... Every body knew. "Eskenderia di beta'ti ana!" that "this was MY ALEXANDRIA!" in that tiny little head of mine Alexandria was that villa and it was all MINE not to be shared!
Luckily the walls were still bare, so a couple of paint coats, took care of the dispute.

Our days were spent in trips from that white two story building to the beach. Which was conveniently a walking distance. We grabbed our beach chairs, towels, a plastic woven rug, and a big umbrella( you know the kind you dig in the sand for shade). No bags or nothing. Each one of us dragged an item, then dragged it back. We used to rotate turns of who carries that giant umbrella. It was practically as heavy as I was then. If not heavier, really! It left a long snaky trail from our house to the spot were we dug it in the sand.

We ate pretty much (with a few exceptions) ate two different kinds of dishes through out the summer: pasta for lunches and freshly caught fish by my dad for dinners. For desert we had "feteer bel sokar" sweet pastries with butter and lots of sugar. We rode horse carts and the Ferris wheel, we went to Egyptian comedy plays and shows and invited relatives over for barbecues and ice cream. Those four months to all of us, were the pure manifestation of heaven on earth.

And that's why, come time to leave. My parents would have to sneak in the middle of the night after loading all five of unconscious us in my father's big silver Mercedes. Then make that drive back. Eventually, I would be woken up in front of our Cairo building. Feeling betrayed, I start kicking, screaming and throwing a massive fit you would think someone dear to me just died. I wouldn't stop until I exhausted myself to sleep. Frankly, I don't blame me!

The villa is abandoned now, with huge cracks in its skeleton. Aging not so gracefully and waiting to crumble and fall. I went there once in my teens and one more time when I was a newly wed, to get some antique furniture ( my dad used to love saving beautiful pieces from auctions) and appliances for my new place. I haven't been there since. Why the villa came to this state is another story that I am not likely to share. All I can say is I really miss my Alexandria.

(Another sentimental post, what's wrong with me?)


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great Story! Please keep them coming.