My Guadalupe River, it pulled me to it, always and often I made my way to its water.......my first year here, I was hungry for water ...Though my first year here was 2001, the year I became friends with that river and spent more time there, however, over the years, a quiet secret hiding place.
I needed this river, and I came to it, my transitional water, an hour from my home and the forever-returning, after Mother's Syria and the wild longing for the sounds and scents of spices, and walking the Damascene souks, ya mal i'sham, y'Allah, ya mali, tar il mattar, ya hilwa, ta'ali----the castles, the seaside Lattakia streets [the first I'd visited my parents' and siblings' home, my grandfather's built slate stone home, behind his own, for guests; and having spent nearly a month there, sad over the leaving, a world away, the embroidered souks, the central water fountain in the big city, our trek to Aleppo, and the high wall of the fortress, Krek de Chevalier, where Asian tourists laughed and looked upwards, to a friend, on top of the Rapunzelian tower, the photographer friend below, urging her to smile, screaming upward in air, Soura, Soura!; and the castle of Salahidin, Zenobia's Palmyra, [think before the Arab Spring, as if time knew we had to go, and then].
The doleful Arabic sung voices over the speakers in restaurants, the khibz el saj, the thin bread baked over a steel mound, pregnant belly of heat; walking the streets at night with sister Sada, one night, alone, after we came back from a bus tour of Homs and nearby places, the rest of us in the hotel with the phone number that carried 777, I begged Sada to come, not for protection, but for fun, as I wandered the big city streets, and we heard the tabl and zummer, the percussive bold sound of the drum, and the celebratory horn, people clapping and ululating, a wedding on a patio behind the stucco and stone arches, and Sada and I began to dance and sway, our own moment, there, among them, on the sidewalk, three blocks from our hotel; and later, walking back, a parade of drummers and another zummer, and the wedding-goers marching past us, many weddings this summer night.
Once, nearer a river, in the small village of Kamea, or was it Kafroun, Bryan and I heard the same festive sounds, as hundreds of people, we found, after our stepping up a flight of stairs, leaving, for a moment, our own beautiful dinner gathering, the long tables filled, us there, dining, by the slow river, at the invitation of Father Michael, and his lovely wife, Bryan and I stepping up, after we ate below the rippling sounds of a wedding gathering, there we were, later, peeking in; there they were, under a tent, a man with a grey and silken sheen of hair, the long of it pulled back and banded, a Hawaiian shirt, white cotton summer pants, the open sandals, there he danced, arms raised up; his tall, slim body, and grace.
The last festive days of summer, before the subsequent spring.