Today I find myself being thankful for togetherness as I walk the dusty cobbled side streets of Egypt. The early afternoon sunshine beats down gently upon my shoulders whilst I trundle along in my flip flops. It is ever so quiet at this time of day as the local men of all ages gather at the mosques for their Friday prayers. Old bent grandfathers with whiskery grey faces walk peacefully alongside young children skipping and bouncing with the energy of youth. They share the togetherness of family, of male companionship and religion and I enjoy their moment. The streets are empty, prayers are whispered in mosques across the town and I walk in my own peace. I treasure it against the usual noise of beeping taxis and people going about their business every other day of the week. Through the togetherness of their Friday payers I can enjoy some solitude and daydreaming as I place one pink flip flop in front of the other and walk on.
I pass my favourite bougainvillea as I turn a corner towards the sparkling ocean. It sits atop a strong sand coloured wall and is touched by the sun. This bougainvillea is huge; tumbling and cascading down the wall in a mass of heavy boughs and tendrils. It is covered in magenta pink flowers that peek and poke out of every curved branch of thorns and leave no space for a birds’ nest or even just a little bird. I cannot help but admire its vibrancy, its sheer obviousness, yet few people see it in this quiet corner. With just one flower it wouldn’t amount to much but the togetherness of many hundreds of flowers make it utterly magnificent and beautiful.
The ocean calls me across the deserted road to admire her fringing reef and shades of turquoise water that lap at soft sand. I smile to myself at a cloud of sand swirling and drifting in the water from an aqua aerobics group marching in the shallows. Together they twist and turn energetically to the music and encouragement of their instructor. Their pump their hands high, determined and coordinated and no doubt tired in the hot sunshine. From my cliff top view I simply cannot tell which one is the instructor as they circle closer in, they are that enthusiastic. I can only admire their sense of togetherness as they splash some more. I smile and walk on by with the occasional twist and turn of my own to the music of my iPod.
As I open the front door to my apartment I see our shoes lined up together, ready for the next adventure. I see walking boots that have taken us across foreign countries together as we laughed until our sides ached and had to lean upon each other for support. I see your sandals that have taken us on walks as we held hands and gave us time to talk at cafes and restaurants in our togetherness. Times of good food, shared jokes and references; a private language and world of our own. The same sandals that you wore to hospital when you held my hand through illness and didn’t let go. I place my cracked pink flop flops gently beside them, they look so tiny next to you.
I ask myself what life would be like without togetherness as I pour my cup of tea and settle into my chair. It would be empty and dull, like an old fusty sock lying at the roadside on its own. Unclaimed and unwanted as people walk by and wrinkle their noses. If we lived a life of isolation, of being apart from friendship, community and love I think we would fade away just like that sock. It would be like walking life with one shoe; painful, awkward and slow. Without togetherness there would be no mass of flowers to enjoy, no quiet prayer time on a Friday, no shared enthusiasm and no hand to hold. There would be so little joy.
A simple walk is all it took to remind me today that life really is Better Together. I am so thankful for the hand that I hold each day, for the opportunity to be others’ support and for people. They make my life what it is. A pretty, perfect, peaceful Friday.
“And as ridiculous as it may sound, sometimes all any of us needs in life is for someone to hold our hand and walk next to us.”
― James Frey