When I was thinking about moving to Japan, part of me was nervous about it becoming my new second home. Knocking Morocco out of this place in my life. I was worried that my experiences abroad in Japan would top or replace the ones I experienced in Morocco. That new people and new customs would move into that space in my heart. What has happened couldn't be farther from the truth.
When I visited a friend in the city of Nagoya she took me to a Moroccan restaurant for lunch. There I met Karim, the owner who has lived in Japan for 10 years. Within the first minute of entering I asked him "wesh unti Magribi" are you Moroccan? The flood gates were open.
Being in Japan makes me miss Morocco in a way I didn't miss it in the United States. I am in a place where everything is new and though I crave the familiarity of the United States, I also crave the familiarity I built in Morocco. Despite it being a culture so different from my own, after two years in such an intimate, immersive relationship with it Morocco became comfortable. I miss the outpouring of hospitality of small town Moroccan people. I miss the cushy hugs and uncountable kisses from Moroccan women and girls. I even miss the music, yes the repetitive songs that seem to go on forever.
Being in Karim's restaurant surrounded by pieces of Morocco, I felt at home. In a way that I could lean back and the entire country of Morocco would catch me. I felt again, like Morocco was mine.
One thing I never wanted was for my Moroccan people to ever be replaced. I spoke to Karim about my sister Rababe, brother, Soufiene, and my Mama and Baba, people who are often on my mind. I spoke of them with a genuine pride and joy that they are mine.
|Soufiene, Rababe, and Baba, 7 years ago|