Today is the day.
By the time this post publishes (it's been scheduled a little in advance), my family and I will have left Egypt.
What to say on a day like this? One chapter of my life is ending today. It's a chapter I'd like to keep open for a while longer. I expressed my nostalgia in my "Saying Good-bye" post not too long ago. Now I've said my good-byes to my friends, my favorite shops and their keepers, my favorite restaurants and their owners and employees.
What I haven't said yet is "Thank you." Thank you, embassy community, for preparing the way for me and for providing so many small and large luxuries to make my adjustment easier. Thank you, expat community as a whole, for welcoming me, embracing me, and providing a supportive social network during every phase of my life here. Thank you, Maadi Community Church, for showing me a glimpse of what heaven will look like. Thank you, Maadi Women's Guild, for giving me the opportunity to fellowship with other Christian women, to participate in group Bible studies, and to serve people who need it more than I ever imagined possible in my comfortable life back in the States. Thank you, Caritas Egypt, for running the baby wash program, which was my first foray into volunteering in Egypt. Thank you, Mother Teresa's, for running the orphanage and daycare where the children stole my heart from the moment I met them.
Thank you, people of Cairo, for welcoming me into your country. For being supportive and not impatient with me as I mangled your lovely language in my attempts to speak it, and for your attempts to help me learn it better and more quickly. For caring about my daughter and looking out for her welfare, even when I disagreed with your advice. For offering me a seat on the Metro even though I'm sure you were more exhausted and in need of it than I was. For using your own Metro ticket to get the turnstile to let me out that time when my ticket decided to stop working during transit. For banding together to protect my daughter, myself, and my property from your less upstanding neighbors during the Revolution.
Thank you, Egypt, for showing me that I'm stronger, more adaptable, and more capable than I realized. For showing me how good my life is. For showing me how good life can be even for people who have so much less than I have, as long as they have faith, family, and a sense of humor. For giving me a taste for adventure. For helping me understand that adventure does not always feel adventurous. For helping me realize that a laid-back attitude doesn't mean that things can't get done, just that they get done in a different way and with different timing. For showing me that things don't have to get done how and when I want them to, and I'll still be just fine. For allowing me to expand my horizons and those of my daughter.
Good-bye, O Egypt, and thank you.
Ma'salama, ya Masr, wi shukran.