The news from home being that my grandmother is not improving and may slip away from us shortly, I decided to cut my trip short by a few weeks and get myself back to the States.
I will be leaving Egypt this coming Monday. I find it difficult to believe that in a few short days I’ll be wheeling above the Nile on my way home.
My feelings about leaving are very mixed: I’ll be so happy to get away from the pollution, the smog and the harassment that I can’t help having a bounce in my step as I point my shoes homeward. On the other hand, I had such a difficult time getting settled in when I arrived and each day was so monumentally challenging that every time things went right the rewards were that much more satisfying. The lows were low, but it only made the highs even higher. I was so looking forward to completing the whole trip, just so I could throw my hands in the air and yell, “I did it!” Now I feel like I’m getting out of the game before passing go, if you know what I mean.
Laying all of that aside I know in my heart that my decision to go home is right. All the issues with my research and everything I faced here in Cairo are no longer important: this is a time that I need to be with my family.
Something else that puts me at ease is the knowledge that the Egyptians I know all completely understand my decision to go. Egyptians value family very highly; anyone in my situation would go home if at all possible. It would be stranger to them if I were to stay and continue working on the tenuous possibility that my grandmother might recover.
The past few days have been a whirlwind of arrangements: phone calls to family, e-mails to my university, figuring out which days of the week it’s possible to fly from Cairo to New York, finding a replacement tenant for my room. In the next 60 or so hours, I’ll be making the most of my time in Cairo in whatever way I can: a few more research interviews, spending time with my friends, sitting in corners madly scribbling notes at salsa events. In a way, I think it’s very fitting that my goodbye to Cairo should be as tumultuous and unpredictable as my entrance.