culture & community relationships & love

Transitioning (or: I’m Here. I’m There. I Was Never There at All)

by JoAnna — April 22, 2013

The sun hits my face as the wind cuts across my cheeks carving southeasterly tracks that ride the length of my jawbone. The gusts are sharp and unforgiving, and somewhat wanton at that. They’re Winter’s last-ditch attempt at holding onto the spotlight; strong-arming Spring before she’s had the chance to arrive. I zigzag across Brooklyn on this pseudo spring day hopping from market to antique store and drowning myself in countless blended fusions. This is my ragged attempt to jar the reality of the situation home. I tune into the conversations of people passing by: checking out clothing, listening to lingo, observing the mundane traction of daily life.

‘This will work’ I tell myself, though hours pass and it doesn’t. It hasn’t. Not quite. Not really.

Not just yet.


My subconscious is still making its way across the Atlantic and muscle memory is lost on other side of the bed. My body tries to recalibrate each time my feet hit the floor, but a stubborn case of temporary amnesia continues to knock me out. Smack! Thud! I exit the bedroom taking a hard left because – you know – the bathroom should be there, but instead all I get is a face full of wall and the searing pain of a jammed left toe.


This isn’t something new of course. It’s how life plays out for the first few months thanks to the blow expat life has delivered. My displacement #firstworldproblems rise to the surface by way of subtle disorientation that’s laced with mild confusion. I spend the first few weeks wandering around aimlessly because I’m living in a lucid dream. Everything is dusted in a violet hued haze as reverse shock echoes through my system and reversals of culture slap me all over my face. I’m bridging the divide, momentarily stuck between spaces, as I try to recall where I’m supposed to reside.


I still dress as if I’m bag lady wanting to hide every edge and curve, and I catch myself smoothing down wild curls with the palm of my manicured hand. I get whiplash upon entering the local grocery and shamelessly hoard oddities like quinoa and organic almond butter. Each day I walk out the front door thinking Cairo will be in the foreground, and each day I’m greeted with brownstone, Buicks and Americanized English: things that are strangely familiar to the senses, but still rough to the touch. Thankfully, my condition is improving as Egypt fades into the background, and though Cairo’s long shadow still clings tightly, she’s not as suffocating as she used to be. The expanse I used to inhabit doesn’t exist anymore, I actually wonder if I was ever really there. And so the days continue, moving between the spaces, letting go of old places and  figuring out how to make this new metropolis my own.

You see, I’m no longer there and I’m not yet here.

I’m really nowhere at all. 

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