My pen had gathered dust; the golden burnt dust of Egyptian deserts that was carried across stark mountains by gusting winds and came to settle upon me. I touched my mind to the dust, to the turquoise ocean passing me by and finally the words began to form. Like bougainvillea buds opening against dry cracked walls in the sunshine, so it began again in colour and abundance. My voice had quietly walked her return to me when I was busy moving to Egypt last week. I had noticed her absence for many weeks, longed for her return and smiled as she came back and the wind whipped the dust from me through the taxi window.
To the sound of a car horn I came back to myself this morning from that thought. As I sat in the taxi, hot leathery seats sticking to my skin and warm winds cooling my freckled face, I couldn’t help but laugh and smile. My taxi driver and I were strangers pulled together by my need to obtain a visa to live in Egypt today. We had set off on our long journey early this morning quietly, awkward in our differences, and yet we returned as friends. As mile upon mile of dusty mountainous road passed us by, our cultural differences had faded away with the simplicity of two open minds and our names. We came to laugh, we shared and talked of the world over aromatic Egyptian coffees and sat together under the shade of an old and crinkled tree. I was clearly the foreigner in my Western clothes and surrounded by Egyptian men passing their day peacefully with sweet tea. They kicked the orange dust under their tanned feet and huddled close around faded plastic tables whilst homeless cats scuttled by.
The tiny leaves from the crinkled tree drifted down with each change of the wind and swirled into my coffee lazily. Their yellow leaves settled like confetti upon my clothes as I listened to my driver and his words, his stories. With an easy tone his inspiring words lingered in my mind.
We talked of love and life today under that tree, of my driver’s family that he so clearly adores with all his heart. He has been married for almost 15 years but the numbers today were irrelevant. What struck me most was his description of his family, of how he called his wife and children ‘his ship’. As he put it, his ship is safe. He told me of times in his heart when he felt his ship was in trouble for reasons that are not mine to share. With sadness in his eyes he unfurled his tale of losing the warm grip of love he had held so tenderly and how the timbers on his ship were starting to crumble through the routine and familiarity of daily life. But with barely a pause to sip his coffee the fire then lit in his eyes. With gestures and resolution he shared how hard he had worked to rebuild his ship. How despite the dark times, despite the sense of loss, this was still his family, his ship and he fought for them every day.
With love as his rudder and hope as the wind in his sails, he rebuilt his ship and poured his heart and soul into his family. He stepped back and considered how he has always loved them unconditionally and quite simply will do, and has done, everything he can to keep them happy and safe. And likewise his wife has done everything she can for her beloved husband and loves him deeply. No matter how dark it was at times for them, they held hands tightly, kept on giving and kept on loving without reservation. He told me with a passion in his eyes that he doesn’t love because he expects something back; he simply loves his wife and his children always. Unconditionally and without reservation. And she loves him unconditionally and without reservation in return. They simply don’t give up.
Fourteen years of marriage and they still spend two hours on the phone to one another every single working day.
Just because they can.
His ship is safe
We left our shady tree, my tummy full of coffee as the heat of the midday sun closed upon us. We began our journey homewards and I let the miles pass my gaze in a blur of desert and ocean. It came to me that since moving to Egypt I too have My Ship. After months of waiting I am finally able to hold the hand of the man I love and begin to pull my timbers together. It is our turn to mould a hull with kindness, trust and love and fill the sails with laughter and hope for us both every day. As I build my ship I am smiling and I am engraving her with the ways in which I try to live
Be slow to take offence & quick to forgive
Love Unconditionally, Always
I am cautious at times as I bend the hull into place. I am fearful of being only human, of making old mistakes and of hurting my ship simply by being me. But then I recognise we all hold that vulnerability, we all have ‘issues’ and the only true way of healing one another is through love. Perhaps the hardest part is to take that leap, to risk loving someone completely and allow them to love you in return. Love requires fearlessness, forgiveness and courage. I have taken my leap, and with them by my side I am setting sail into the future. Today I hope I have the strength and forgiveness to ride each wave graciously and laugh all the way to the next one. And I hope we explore many turquoise oceans as we go.