1.13.2017

Today in HERstory: Lucky13

Today. Today in HERstory:

MYstory about HERstory in history- 6 years ago to be exact. January 13, 2011. Not a date for forget, she thinks. Every year now I ponder what each and every one of us is thinking in those initial moments of awareness of the date. This year I was reminded on January 11. Marley posted something and the memory gates flooded so hard that a warmth washed over my body. I almost forgot, I thought. Solo_ojo reminded me I was 2 days early. Lucky 13, he said. That's how he remembers the date; his lucky number... Clever. Poignant. Bittersweet.

Tunisia, my beloved. A relatively recent arrival, soon enough I found myself immersed, absorbed, engulfed in the turmoil of that most wonderful country. Tunisia is kinda like my first love. I'm not sure why I say that, but I do. How do I define such a thing. I guess the 'Arab Spring' is one of those defining moments. So is Hammamet, though. Yea. That day we just decided to hop on the train and go camp on the beach in Hammamet. That we did.

I remember hanging out at this funky joint inside the kasbah (fort), in Hammamet's medina on the Mediterranean.  What a sight, I tell you. I remember we were smoking shisha outside. The heat of the day still radiating. We slid right into relax mode and just checked the new scene. Later we were walking the shoreline in darkness, looking for a resting spot in the sand for the night. Having no idea where we were, really, at some point we just sat down, rolled out our sleeping bags and passed out. Well, Solo_ojo did. Haha. He snores. My bag was about 10 feet away. The stars were chattering- louder than Solo_ojo's snoring.

La Goulette, another defining moment. And El Dougga. And 'plastic alley'. And Tunis's medina. And and and...I loved that city. Well, I also loved Gaziantep. I love Istanbul. There is a theme here, that doesn't go unnoticed by me. If you can't figure it out, ask and I'll tell you about it sometime...

So many defining moments, that place. Tunisia was a moment on my timeline, just a hiccup really. What I took away from that moment in time though is vast and inspiring.

So yea, I always wonder about our 'crew'; the circles of people who collectively make up this experience. All of us landing in time and place at that specific point in time, we had no idea what we were about to become a part of. It's like this tattoo impressed upon which memories might fade with time, but it's ETCHED in there pretty firmly, really. Whatever 'it' is, that is.

We all share it. We all know it. We don't really give ourselves too many platforms to talk about it. So this anniversary is special, I think, for each of us.

I look forward to the process of invoking these memories. I absolutely LOVE Facebook for allowing us a platform to all come together to see postings, make comments, share a collective experience- even though we've all (many) since scattered to all realms of the globe.

Photos, words, videos, emoji all mixed together in bittersweet expressionism; our performance art. I feel closer to everyone, again, during these days leading up to today. I think we all know of our whereabouts, and social media is this web for us. I know what both (Scottish and German) Kirsten's are doing. Does Faeez still wear my Brazilian track jacket, that I bought at some back alley fripe? The list goes on. This group of incredible beings I met while working at Amideast, we are a movement. We are in movement, always it seems. We seem to ebb and flow as the tide, landing on other shores to take up residence, for a short stay, or not.

So I mean to say that there is so much history from this historical event. I love all our stories. The connection to Tunisia still feels so strong. I came. I saw. I stayed. I got interrupted. I left. I hunger. I dream. I forget.

We all have it. We all have THIS in our systems. I wonder what we are all thinking at this moment...
Here is what I'm thinking about tonight, in pictures. Solo_ojo produced some epic shots of that day, which you will see. Yea, nearly cost him his life in doing so...


This coffee shop was around the corner from where I lived. We met up here a few times in the days that followed January 13.

The infamous Tunis Clocktower- legendary in fact... yes, it's a dark story of what used to happen underneath it...


Lots of protests erupted throughout the city, but certainly here downtown- a sort of spiritual center for revolutionaries you might say.

Solo_ojo

Solo_ojo

Solo_ojo

Solo_ojo

Solo_ojo captured this from his rooftop. This was our first observation deck. Soon afterwards, we decided to graduate ourselves from the safety of the roof to down on the streets, with the masses. We had no fucking idea what would happen...

My apartment,with the 'hood regulars. Solo_ojo had to take refuge here and re-cooperate from his gunshot wounds. Many friends actually stayed here during the days right after. No one wanted to stay alone in their apartments...

Neighbors being neighborly. These guys checked in very frequently to make sure Solo_ojo had all that he needed during his convalescing.

the nightly kitchen crew!

We did a lot of just hanging out right afterwards. There was no choice really as martial law was declared and curfews in place.

Another altercation on the street just below my apartment. We were like caged birds- watching from inside, wondering what it was like 'down there'. Everything suddenly seems so familiar. The Monoprix supermarket just down the street a block, Bombay Shwarma near the corner. FYI, to date,Bombay Shwarma is THE BEST shwarma in the world... (my) FACT.

Solo_ojo and Liz. Liz and Ehsan and friends rescued us! They braved driving under martial law (no one was supposed to be on the road) and got us out of the city center to Menzah 5 (?) neighborhood, in the 'burbs- where we thought we would be safe... NOT

Liz, Stephen, Faeez, Kirsten, Sam and Emily. We're all just chilling- I mean, we had all lost our jobs (temporarily). It was a surreal time indeed. Days of sitting, smoking, drinking, talking, wondering, theorizing...


I'm not sure if this was just before, or just after...

Hichem and Stephen catching up

Faeez, Avril, Hichem, Kirsten and Stephen. Another day, another cafe. We're all wondering when we would be working again, when our money was going to run out, what would happen to Tunisia now, etc.

This day was our 'revolution' field trip; we took ourselves on a self-guided walking tour of the various residences of Ben Ali and family members in a swank neighborhood. We weren't alone. Hundreds of people were descending into the (now) vandalized residences as Ben Ali and family members fled the country.

More of the 'revolutionary walking tour'

Claire-bear and I in yet another restaurant

I am amusing Kirsten here, I think :) 

Okay not sure how this got here. This was right when Solo_ojo first moved into Chloe's old place when she took off for Argentina.  I ended up finding a place 2 blocks away.

Amri, Emily and a large group at another bar in the aftermath

Solo_ojo

At David's place in the 'burbs. Stephen and Sarah. There was about 7 of us that took refuge here for a few days- until just after thugs decided to loot the Monoprix supermarket below and wreck havoc in general.  I remember thinking they would try to burn the building. Then I remember freaking out and all of thinking they were coming up the stairwell so we started moving furniture against the front door so it would take longer to break the door open... THIS was freaky.  We spend a very tense 1st night here. I mean, I thought this was it, again, for a few hours... Sarah and I did happen to catch one looter running away (we were spying from up on the 4th floor) carrying a naked mannequin... That was a funny Arab Spring Moment. A few of those moments managed to present themselves to us. Those distractions were much appreciated.