Fez is home.
I know the best shortcuts through the medina’s serpentine alleys and derbs. I know the best places to get a deep-fried mashed potato sandwich (called MACOUDA) in the Medina, the Ville Nouvelle and Fez Jdid. I know everyone, and everyone knows me – shop owners and cafe regulars and bus attendants. This month a taxi driver said, “I remember you! How’s your research?” and another one said, “I remember you! I asked you to marry me once!” And the few people who don’t know me somehow know that I belong.
My nationality is becoming increasingly ambiguous. Every day I hear people in the streets arguing over whether I’m Moroccan or gauria. Most commonly it’s when I pass a couple of shebab in the street, and one starts to make some sort of creepy comment in French, Spanish or English. The other looks at him like he’s an idiot “La, la akhoya! Maghrbia, hadi!” ("No, no, brother...This girl’s Moroccan!") Regardless of whether the “realization” that I’m Moroccan is followed by some respect or by simply another pickup line in Arabic, it makes my day. Every time.
I’m not sure what it is that makes me seem more and more Moroccan to people who have never seen me before. My appearance – very white, blue-eyed, dressing in unmistakably American style – should be a dead give-away. But I think there’s something else in play – some sort of intangible sense that I belong here. That’s not to say that I “fit in” in the typical sense, but I’ve carved a place in Fessi society and snuggled into it. I fit like a ZILEJ tile in a perfectly planned Fessi mosaic.
(Photo by JKP)
For the past couple months the thought of leaving this place – which will happen in 6 weeks – has seemed absolutely tragic. How can I leave this city that I’ve worked so hard to make my home? How can I remove myself from this master-crafted mosaic?
Then, I remember...
I want to. And I need to. America is home, too.
David Byrne and the Talking Heads said it best:
Home – it’s where I want to be, but I guess I’m already there.
I think I’ve unwittingly condemned myself to a life of perpetual homesickness, whether I'm here or there. But the glass-half-full side of the matter is that I’m leaving home to go home.
And I’ve been thinking about that mosaic. Maybe I had it backwards. Maybe it’s not that I’m a tile in this mosaic of Fez. Maybe, instead, Fez is a tile in the mosaic of my life.
Whose Win is it Anyway?
6 years ago