Tunisian Soulfood, and other revolutionary thoughts...
So much is on my mind: packing for Turkey, conferences in Turkey, PowerPoints to make for conferences in Turkey, getting my last day of work out of the way tomorrow and final grades confirmed and entered for the semester, etc. There is so much to do yet I sit quietly in the dark next to the space heater (yes, it is freezing cold here in the Middle East) thinking about Tunisia. Thinking about 4 years ago yesterday and today when a revolution not only swept a country, but swept through my being and consumed me.
I am thinking about my friends who experienced this event with me. I am thinking about all the people I don't even know that witnessed this event. I'm thinking about all the martyrs. I'm thinking about the New Tunisia of today. The Tunisia that struggles to make something from all this. It wasn't for nothing. It doesn't guarantee something. Everyone is hopeful. Everyone is watching. Everyone is waiting. To see.
I am thinking about Ben Ali, the deposed dictator. Is he still in Saudi? Is he living a life of luxury in exile? I am thinking of all the people in the hospital that I stared blankly at while waiting for my friend solo_ojo to come out of surgery after taking a bullet for Tunisia. I was roaming the halls of the hospital with Cyrus the Virus. I was carrying a box containing a bloody belt, a bloody pair of shoes, and a camera full of the day's fury. I couldn't understand anybody. I was in a tunnel. We all looked the same, grief-stricken. We were all freaked out, I'm sure.
Occasionally I would allow myself to look at the contents of the box. I would not allow myself to cry- not yet. It wasn't time. Something kicked into motion inside of me. Something I had no control over. Something I'm sure that was a result of my father's influence on me. My phone kept ringing. It seemed a bother to answer. It seemed a heavy task to accomplish.
I felt so alone, even though I wasn't. I was surrounded by love. I was surrounded by passion. I was surrounded by revolution so fresh it was dripping crimson blood. Blood. I had it. I had it in me and on me. I remember looking down at my running shoes. My beloved gray New Balance running shoes, covered in blood. They weren't earlier in the afternoon...
There was a certain beauty to that murky afternoon. At this point in history, I realize I'm already starting to forget things- for whatever reason. For whatever reason I don't want to forget anything. I want to remember everything as it was, as it still is. I realize I will continue to write about this because it's just so overwhelming- still. I want to feel every emotion I experienced then. I want to remember that smell of tear gas. I want to visualize over and over again all that I took in on that day, those days.
I thought about that day most of the day today. I had an awfully busy day today. When the events of today were past me and I got home and turned on my computer, I opened FaceBook. I saw that many of 'us' were posting about THAT DAY, those days. It's not just me. We are all doing it. We are all honoring those memories of THAT DAY. There's a comfort to that that is indescribable. I'm not sure why.
In the ensuing days there was so much tension. There was so much laughter. There was so much wonder. There was so much coffee and cigarettes... There was alcohol. There was shisha. There were many late nights, watching movies. I remember vividly staring down my window at the ground and seeing an army guy hiding beneath a palm tree. Maybe he wasn't hiding. I don't know. All the lights were out in my apartment and a few of us were watching a movie. I remember thinking that the light from my little computer seemed so bright and that maybe it shouldn't be.
I remember finally being able to come back into my neighborhood a few days later. Everything felt different. Suddenly life was a slow-moving picture show in black and white. Soon our neighborhood gang found out that solo_ojo had been shot. Soon people started coming over to check up on him, on us. The rotisserie chicken guy came and brought us chicken. It was our favorite. We ate at that chicken joint 3 times a week- easy. Damn the way those chickens were stuffed full of Rosemary goodness...
Slowly life turned a new leaf. We all came together to talk. To smoke. To drink. To share. To find moments of laughter. To be somber together. These days had an impact. I might forget for long periods of time, but I can return at any time. I think this is what 'soulfood' is. Yes.
I'm stuffed on soulfood tonight. I think we all are.