Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Missing Morocco

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.
We ordered our Moroccan tajines for lunch and sat at the counter of the small, intimate restaurant as I carried on a conversation with Karim in Moroccan Arabic. I was so ecstatic to be using this language again. The ease in which it came to me revived confidence in myself as I am struggling to acquire much useful Japanese. Talking with Karim about Morocco allowed me to connect with my second home once again.
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
Coming to Japan has, in a strange way, brought me closer to Morocco. I know I'll have space within me for this time and place as well. When the unfamiliar begins to become familiar I know my heart will begin to swell with more affection. Now I know I have room for it all.