A Closet Reordering

Over the past couple of days I have been cleaning out my closet. That would be the one between my ears.

It’s difficult to believe that it was almost a year ago that I wrote about Amy, a girlfriend from my high school days. You can find the background on Amy and our meeting last year here, 2nd here, 3rd here, 4th here, and 5th here .

I had a meal and drink with her last week as she was in town again for a conference. We have kept in touch since her last visit, emailing and texting on a regular basis. We are getting to know each other again.

I had very mixed emotions after we met last year. This is a woman I had not seen nor heard from in many decades. A woman I had fantasized about all that time … though admittedly not so much in the past several years. Nonetheless I had had a tender spot in my heart that was always activated even at the mention of her name.

I sort of confused myself. I suspect I could have gone up to her room last year after our drink and something would have happened. I didn’t. I begged off to be sure it didn’t or wouldn’t happen. Why was that? I didn’t want anything to happen, and that definitely bewildered me.

Was I afraid that she would reject me?

No, I don’t think so. The vibes were positive.

Was it because I had this deeply imagined fantasy and didn’t want to risk the chance of reality ruining it?

Maybe.

Had I and/or my thoughts of Amy changed?

Possibly.

And so we met again.

Dare I say, it felt like old times. In the sense that there were no nerves, I felt no pressure. We caught up a bit and chatted about recent dealings with common friends, and what she had on her plate profession-wise. I mostly listened. It was still easy for me to get caught up in the magic of her flashing, deep green eyes. The lilt in her voice.

But that was all. There was no lust for her. Not last year. Not now. The wont had disappeared. And won’t be resurrected.

That long-gripping ghost has finally ceased to haunt me. The mental closet holding my deepest emotional treasures and memories has released one long resident spirit. I have one less obsession.

And let’s be honest. It was an obsession. I can be obsessive. I need to wrap my head around this.

And yes, Amy and I will stay in touch.

 

 

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Brickworks

It was a tense time in Egypt. But then, when hasn’t it been? Anwar Sadat ruled with a velvet fist and things seemed secure, though every bridge and important building was guarded by the military or heavily armed national police. The Brotherhood was deemed a constant threat, along with other more militant religious groups, plus a fear that radical Palestinians could mount attacks. In fact, it would not be many years before Sadat was assassinated by one of those groups of militants.

I was interested, of course, intently so, at the history I knew was unfolding around me. I couldn’t know though the details, or the lasting impact these times would have.

I made my way upriver from Cairo, primarily by train in 3rd class, getting off wherever the urge beckoned. My adventuresome spirit returned for a short interval and I made sure to stay only in minus 2-star hotels. I remember writingย  Kate from one of those hotels. We had been together the last time I had visited the Arab world, and I spilled out to her what I was seeing, mixing in those thoughts with the adventures we had had. I reveled in the sights, the culture, the way the Nile was the basis for all.

It was not that far north of Aswan that I ran into Michel and Andy. They were a gay couple, but obviously, given the times and the location, they were circumspect about it. Michel was a Lebanese architect, and Andy was an American psychologist. Apparently they had met at the Sorbonne, and had been together 5 or 6 years when I met them.

Led by Michel, they were intent on improving the life of Egyptians through better use of traditional building methods for houses. This meant improving mud brick construction. That was their dream anyway. When I met them they were erecting several significant sized structures, using manual labor, and only mud bricks. They were working on methods to improve cupolas, and each of their buildings would feature several.

Nearby was the “brick works” … the flat area where the actual mud bricks were made by hand, then left to bake in the 130+ degree F sun. Michel described the process to me. He emphasized how the mud had to be mixed with straw and some camel dung to make sure the bricks were strong and would hold together and last.

I was carried back to these memories a few days ago. It struck me that it’s really only strands of the common and mundane, mixed with little pieces of shit that are what keeps it all together.