Waiting for Matthew
Walking by the emptied shelves of Whole Foods (before we are judged, it needs to be clarified that we only shop there due to its incredible proximity to our place of residence. Otherwise, we too are critical of its ridiculously over-priced and pretentious items) as people hurry by stacking up their trolleys, stocking up for the storm that is supposed to hit, I am reminded of the tens of scenes I've seen in films about the apocalypse.
I am also reminded of the story my father told me about when the Iran-Iraq war had just begun, and my grandfather, having lived at the time of World War II had come home one day with numerous bags of wheat, planning on baking bread to feed his entire family, fretting famine similar to the one caused in Europe a handful of decades back...
I stand in line, the longest I've ever been part of in America, behind a gentleman in his seventies in a suit and a red tie, his trolley filled with food that depict his disregard for the approaching "catastrophe". Wine, perishable edibles and flowers. He is asked if he is stacking up for the storm. Shrugging he replies "I'm not concerned". I make a remark about people's slightly exaggerated freak-out, and he tells me he's lived in Miami his whole life and this does not scare him one bit. It's the people's reaction that is entertaining. To him and me both.
I tell him this is my first storm but I'm a child of war. These things shouldn't scare me, I add. Although I remember nothing of the war and the credit of courage, sacrifice and patience goes to the three generations before me, I like to think that my comfortable upbringing has been scarred by the horrendous circumstances of the eight year battle. I like to tell the story of my parents, along with many other families having to seek shelter in neighbouring villages, where it was easier to conceal from the Iraqi war planes carrying bombs ready to drop on bigger, more industrial cities. I had been a mere baby. Only a few days after my birth certificate had been stamped. "Seventeen people in one room" my mother recalls. Apparently I cried a lot. I don't remember a thing. I'm sure the other sixteen do, however.
I like to mention that in high school I attended a school that had me sitting in class next to girls who had lost fathers, uncles and grandfathers in the war. Befriending them and in the rare occasions when I wasn't feeling the pangs of guilt I would be sympathising with them.
(I remember the girl whose father, heavily affected by the chemical weapons, would beat her up every few nights and throw her out of the house, only to wake up the next day not recalling the events of the previous night, worried about the whereabouts of his teenage daughter. Fortunately a teacher, living not too far away, had heard of the tragedy that was called life for this girl and would give her shelter in her own home, in the company of her own family so that my classmate did not have to wander the streets at odd hours of the night, waiting for dawn to crack and her father to snap out of his rage...)
My husband calls my writing "unique in a sense that it is scattered about".
"I can't for the life of me follow your stories when you're orally narrating them" he says "but that seems to work when it comes to your writing" he assures me. It is true. I often find him staring at me, his brown eyes widened with confusion, and what seems to be the slightest bit of anxiety fearing my frustration of having to repeat the narrative(s) in a simpler, more direct manner. One that his German habit of being "to the point" understands.
What I am trying to say is, what was supposed to be a simple observation to be typed up as a Facebook status turned into a blog post. The status was supposed to end with my personal conclusion of how we in the more developed, capitalistic societies have been accustomed to abundance that the thought of not having our favourite products a grocery-run away is frightening. I regret to be pointing my finger at America in particular. The variety of products seen in supermarkets and grocery stores are way too overwhelming for the Iranian and European side of me.
To cope, we have limited our grocery runs to biweekly events, making a beeline for products we know and enjoy, avoiding as much as we can the lingering in aisles searching for new items to choose or try. The huge American malls, ironically, bring out the worst of my claustrophobia. The amount of people, the number of shops, the fact that a mall is treated as a hangout place is something I am not used to. And though I still enjoy fashion and am a proud owner of a walk-in closet (yet another American luxury) overflowing with items I have meticulously chosen, my fashion delights arrive in bags and boxes, picked up at the receiving office of the building. The few occasions I have spent time at malls in America have left me overwhelmed, frustrated and confused, nearly always walking out with nothing but disappointment in a country where shopping is supposed to be fun.
I sit on our couch with a spontaneous writing urge in my blog that I have been neglecting for a few months, blaming it on the wedding planning and later the actual wedding (yes, we had our celebration a few weeks ago. Maybe I'll dedicate a post to that). Our curtain-less windows giving me a panoramic view of the ocean, calm and blue, not even hinting at a storm that has everyone's knickers in a twist. I respond to friends' and family's messages of concern with a "it's gonna be fine" and "don't get worried if you don't hear from us cuz we may have power cuts", surrounded by pots, vases and bottles filled with water, unlit candles within reach.
I am not afraid. Afterall I am a child of war... But why was I so relieved upon reading a text from Tim to learn that he is taking an earlier flight from Atlanta to not have me face the storm alone?