Meeting Damascus

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I feel like a bride of an arranged marriage. It is our wedding night and the exhaustion of the preparations and my senses are overwhelming me. And here we are, this new suitor and I, together, discovering cautiously. I am confronted now with this unknown, who I have committed to though I don’t yet know what that means. We will spend this next phase of our life together. It could mean anything.

Passive, I sit here in the back of this taxi, a warm smoky breeze picking up my hair.  The prayer calls, alluring, from the speakers, nostalgic and alien.  Lights spin passed. All kinds of lights: hanging lights from apartment balconies, flashing adorned trees, street lights, neon lights, lit signs in strange and beautiful letting flickering through passing fence slats or palm leaves. All familiar somehow. All new.

I am excited and have found it hard to hide the open wonder of my curiosity this evening at times and, at times, have looked with sideways surreptitious glances at this groom. Here are the joys. Here are the potential heartaches. We walked through Old Damascus in the heat of the late evening of late Ramadan.  Along narrow walled streets of leaning buildings and hanging vines, shops fronts of tiny pots and sweet smelling spices and coloured glass and carved wood and woven carpets and cloth. We walked and I chattered.  This is what we’re doing now. This is where we are. This place and us begin this journey here and walk it together through some unknown path. Tonight we will fall exhausted and tomorrow we’ll begin this marriage and I will begin to discover the ways of my new betrothed.

I make little impact on this new strange spouse yet around me his people stare. Stare at my hair, stare at my eyes, call me in. Leaving BabTouma, feeling faint I clung on watching the world pushed passed in what seemed like a sea of headscarves and ice cream with bubbles from the bubble machine vendors swimming and spinning iridescent through and over us all, popping on arms quietly or shrinking up to the curved roof of this chocked street.