That day I arrived in the dark, wet, muddy city that was Kabul on November 22, 2009, I felt nervous, I felt excited, I felt sad, I felt regretful and I felt optimistic all at once. The moment I stepped off the plane and into the darkness was to be the start of something new; stepping far outside of my comfort zone into mystery. The unknown. Stretching my mind and my soul in ways that I never thought I could. Seeing and hearing sights and sounds that will stay in my mind forever.
The Middle East. My first love. He came, he seduced me and I fell completely and utterly in love. The type of heavenly love that takes over all of your senses, makes you feel safe, strong and balanced. The problem with first love is that it leaves you feeling curious; wanting to find out if there is a deeper love, somewhere in the world. Somewhere with different smells, different tastes, a different style of seduction.
The Middle East, my classic lover. Deep sunsets over expansive sand dunes; the call to prayer echoing at dusk from one beloved hill to another; the dark, deep, kohled eyes that grab you and make you feel like the only thing that matters; the passion of the people that you absorb, carry and reflect; the love; the friendship; the sounds; the laughter; the light.
All that a soul needs to live.
Afghanistan the clandestine lover. Afghanistan makes no attempt to entice you. You feel he maybe doesn’t want you, he doesn’t love you, he shows you no affection. But then somehow you find a way in, a way to understand this place of smoke and mirrors. You start to become comfortable, happy even, falling in love one addictive drop at a time. But suddenly and unexpectedly, just when you thought you understood, your clandestine lover rejects you, time and time again. He reminds you that his is a dangerous love, but you somehow cannot help but to fall again, and again, and again. The rejection drives you further.
You become an obsessed lover.
My love affair with Afghanistan is four months old. I’ve experienced those blissful moments of happiness, those rare glimpses into real life that I crave. This love affair has made me angry, and scared, it has seeped into my nightmares.
It is an intense love affair. In the moment, you can think of nothing else, nowhere else that you would rather be other than in the arms of this beautiful country. As the intensity subsides, you are left with love or hate. But nothing in between.
Afghanistan is like a silent lover. You want to know so much, but he will not tell. You can only guess. If only he would tell, you know you would fall. The Middle East told me everything, it held nothing back.
So how to get my silent lover to speak to me?
I will persevere
I will keep turning over the stones
Until I discover everything