1.13.2012

Pen-ambulations

"Jasmine" aftermath


My favorite thing to do in bed early Saturday mornings as of late is to write... My sport-du-jour of sorts. A friend recently used the term 'perambulations' in correspondence. I've been trying to determine if it is in fact a credible word. I haven't been able to absolutely confirm this, but in doing so I have coined a new phrase: pen-ambulations: while writing while 'walking' down memory lane. It's my word (I think). I give him half the credit for my hybridizing though. 

This sunny morning (the first in a week), I'm pen-ambulating about Tunis one year ago. Exactly one year ago today I woke up in Sam, Kirsten & Faeez's flat downtown behind Avenue Bourghiba. It was the aftermath of a very bizarre previous day that took me away from work to scurry home to procure food and drink for what was expected to be an intense day of violence. Who knew at the time that the focus would be in my beloved neighborhood of Lafayette. 

Stephen was home sick that fateful day. I traipsed over to his flat explaining to him the quickly developing news. We downed some shots of flu medications & other goodies to abate our winter blues and headed out onto the street equipped with cameras and an intense desire to witness the developments- along with the majority of our neighborhood. 

We soon found ourselves in the midst of  full-blown KAOS and became caught up in the tensions. Everything was happening so quickly, yet I felt I was part of a slow-moving frame-by-frame picture show. As the afternoon was passing with waves of violence, tear gas, rock-throwing, mindless chatting with strangers, intense chatting with strangers, and bouts of running, it finally hit me of the seriousness of the situation. What hit Steven, though, was a bullet... 

Hours later, in what seemed like a bad experience with mushrooms, I was leaving the hospital with Stephen (heavily sedated and minus one bullet), Cyrus, and Djamel determined to get past all the roadblocks and police caravans (it was past curfew) so a safe haven. 

The security police, aka 'bad guys', stopped the private ambulance that Dja was finally able to find us and there were some moments of sheer terror. I didn't have any ID on me, Stephen's morphine was wearing off (we could not fill any prescriptions as the city was shut down and he had 3 gaping holes in his upper thigh), and I was hiding a HUGE camera full of incriminating photographs. The paramedic in the back with us was noticeably freaked out & she was sweating. Dja and the ambulance driver were suddenly outside the ambulance talking to the police. 

Minutes seemed like hours. Somehow we were able to continue. My whole world in Tunis was already alerted to our statuses and my head continued to spin as if now the bad mushroom experience was heightened from sips of absinthe. My phone had not stop ringing for hours with concerned people, as well as people who only feigned interest in our health (I'm thinking here of the Embassy & admin at work). 

So it was a long evening. We did have fleeting moments of laughter, I remember. It was a collective consciousness, and those rare moments of a 'good mushroom trip' made infrequent appearances. I remember seeing, through the haze of constant cigarette smoke, food appear, a whisky bottle appear, a coveted laptop or two appear, and some game on the floor that we were mildly interested in so as to desperately distract us from our thoughts past, present and future...

That's all about, these pen-ambulations, as I've written much about these events. This is all I need to document in my pen-ambulations to realize I am fortunate. I have this experience that I continue to process, as well as return back to whenever I think I'm having a bad day. I don't really have bad days anymore, comparatively. 

More pressing matters in the present: are 'perambulations' and 'pen-ambulations' in fact legal words in English lexicon? Maybe they are just two words that two soul searchers made up in order to communicate. Maybe it just doesn't matter, and what really matters is that our lexical choices are understood. That's what's funny about languages and communicating. This is what compels me to continue to pen-ambulate.