Over the next (almost) three years, I learned the squiggles and dots translated into Arabic (well…enough to survive), the traffic became less overwhelming and more of a game, walking down the street a mere inches from cars passing became normal, and I understood how to navigate the many medans and squares to get where I needed to go. I still love the pita and hummus, but have found many other Egyptian foods that I love (fattah, maasa'a, shirkesaya). The health check-ins are much less frequent, thankfully, although a number system is not needed amongst expats. They pyramids and camels are less of a novelty. The Nile is what I drive alongside daily to and from work. And it feels normal. The tanks are still at one of the entrances to my neighborhood, but the protests have slowed down. (In fact…it's been kind of boring lately.) I have found quality friendships and community. I have faced and struggled through cultural differences, but come out stronger on the other side. I have a lemon lady, a cleaner, a vegetable guy, a driver and a bowab. My charades skills have improved and I've learned to laugh at myself along the way. I've learned to appreciate (and enjoy) unpredictability and a slower pace of life. And I know the my English skills have decreased greatly. (Is unpredictability a word?!) There's entertainment in translation and grammar is everything. This is a passionate country - no matter what the situation or topic. They play hard. They fight hard. They love well. And boy have they loved me well. They have taught me to play hard, fight hard, and love well. They have taught me to be stronger. They have taught me to be grateful for my American passport and the freedoms it brings. They have taught me that there are many ways of doing things…and my way (the American way) isn't always right. I have changed. I am different.
They say home is where the heart is. If that's true, never again will my heart be fully home. But never has my heart been so full.
A lot can happen in 5 years.