Sunday, January 15, 2012

memory & cards exercise

Well, here is another attempt on my part to explore relationship with the cards through various not-quite-a-reading type exercises. This idea is pretty straightforward - draw card, and working mostly off of the images on the card, write about a specific memory. Not general 'things i used to do' but of a specific place and moment in time. Then if possible connect that back with the 'traditional' meaning of the card. So...

I've never really ridden a horse, I don't think. There was a birthday party for the granddaughter of a family friend when I was maybe twelve or thirteen. I vaguely recall there being a pony there for a while. The younger kids took turns riding it. I honestly can't remember if I did. I was a good bit older than them, and had never been stereotypical 'I want a pony girl' so it's very possible I might have passed. It was a short ride around in a circle on a front lawn in suburbia type thing, highly unexciting.

I have ridden on a camel. Also nothing too terribly exciting, except that it was in Egypt, in Giza in front of the pyramids. Of course, made less pleasant by the fact that the camels had sores and flies on them and I felt bad for the animals. It was exciting and yet so...controlled. So touristy. Being led in a line across a small stretch of desert and back. I never really like that touristy feel, have a far too easy time seeing myself and companions through the eyes of the ones doing the talking and guiding and whatever and just...I don't like the falseness of it. No doubt useful way to see the 'sights' and yet... My least favorite part of that trip to Egypt was the few days we stayed in Hurgada. It was so pretty and clean and full of Western style restaurants and just so...immaculately touristy. Some people spent entire vacations in places like that, in Sharm-el-Sheik. I just wanted to leave, leave, leave. When I travel, and i DO love traveling more than almost anything else, I want to really EXPERIENCE the place to which I am going. A tourist resort is not Egypt, not the real Egypt, no. It was later, that last week where, having no one to do things with I spent entire days walking around Cairo alone. Some people raise eyebrows when I mention that bit. talk about safety, but...nothing happened, nothing at all.

I walked across the long bridge from Zamalek, through Tahrir square, on the news so much these days but then, before all of that started, perfectly ordinary. There were always people sitting around in front of the stone railing around the bridges, enjoying the Nile, and yes, especially around sunset the Nile was beautiful. Once or twice I bough roasted corn from a street vendor. It was vegan after all, and tasted good enough; like corn. I crossed those massive busy streets with no real intersections, no lights or walk signs you just wait for an opportunity and run across. There was a man selling tea under an underpass, where lots of people also gathered and sat because summer is so hot there and underpass means shade. I definitely admired the women wearing the black abayas, covered entirely and in black in that heat. Some men wore gallabiyas which are similar shaped but light-colored, not the same thing at all.

There was that store in a very, very un-touristy neighborhood which sold koshari, this really yummy dish of pasta and fried onions and lentils and tomato sauce and chickpeas in huge tubs and for so cheap, given exchange rates. The big stores in the downtown area you passed, the movie theatre, the way you walked and walked because what else was there to do, stop in a cafe for a glass of chilled mango juice because it was so hot, so fucking hot and the cafe was cool, walk further, the book store full of books you can't understand, walk further, take in everything with your ears, your eyes, wish you could run away, stay here, the unfamiliarity of it all, walk further, go.

Exploring the world. Same concept, really, the woman on the horse with the bow. The nine staves, nine obstacles, a fence of faces, ideas of what you shouldn't do. Stay within these limits. Stay within these rules. This is safe. This is safe. This is what you are used to. She doesn't need anyone with her - she is ready, excited to go, confident that she can take on anything, in night or day, whatever, let us see something, let us go. My approach to life really. Some would call me reckless, and I won't deny that, but I don't think all recklessness is necessarily bad. A bit of danger does make things more exciting. Jumping out of a plane was the best thing I've ever done. And if I am in a new place, an interesting place, a place I might never have the chance to visit again, why shouldn't I take the chance and walk around and explore and see what i can? If I have no one to do it with should I let that limit me? No, no, no. Even here, in my neighborhood, which some people seem to think is not the safest of places...I've walked around alone, after dark, and it was fine. Nothing happened. Nothing bothered me.

Not that this is always advice I'd give others, not least of which because my priorities in life ARE kind of skewy, but...refuse to let such supposed obstacles limit me. Not obstacles of others, vague, and [working on] not obstacles in my mind...expplore, explore, see how much you can do, and if that is recklessness, so be it, I am reckless. I really would prefer a short but interesting life anyway.


Sharyn Mallow Woerz said...

we have good friends who've become addicted to cruise shipping, that is the only way I can think to describe it. They built up to a world cruise, with 6 hours in Singapore, 4 hours in Luxor...I want to scream WHY BOTHER? 30K...
To each their own, for sure.

Anonymous said...

I just saw the episode with an idiot abroad where carl pilkington is disgusted at all the dirty plastic bags blowing round and round by the pyramids.

I do like your take on the card though! Gonna try it with my next draw.

Anonymous said...

Another great exercise, and another great blog post! Thanks for sharing that memory!
I'm not much of a traveller myself (for a couple of reasons) and I don't live in an area that would seriously be considered risky by many people. But I *still* get incredulous looks when I say that OF COURSE I will walk home in the dark on my own, thank you very much. At the same time, I'm very annoyed with the fact that I have become so much more afraid of all sorts of things than I used to be - and I don't even know why. I'm working on turning around that trend again...

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