Lately, life has been carrying me along too rapidly for me to take any time for reflection, it seems. I have been back in Morocco for more than two months, but it feels as though no more than two weeks have passed. I have utterly enjoyed every minute of these two months, but I have realized that without a bit of time for private reflection, I lose my sense of grounding. My sense of control, my sense of where I am in all this ‘world’ and ‘life’ around me, and my sense of what I am doing there.
It is not the first time that alone time has been hard to find here in Morocco. But despite the intensity of social interaction with my host family last fall, I was always ‘alone’ in my head, in a way – because none of those relationships were based on personal connections, I was able to maintain a kind of observer’s distance, which perhaps means that I was always in a reflective mode. This time around, the social interaction that dominates my days, evenings, and nights, is entirely personal. I am wholly involved in the relationships I have built up, and they have swept me up in a current of activity and interaction so deep I have a hard time reaching the ground with my toes.
Nevertheless, some changes have occurred lately in my situation here – some planned, some by surprise – that have created a greater sense of grounding, and I am hopeful for a greater sense of solidity and control.
First of all, I have moved out of the NIMAR apartment. I now live by myself in a studio on a busy street lined with cafes. I miss living with Fatima but love the space I now have to myself, the satellite TV I can watch in bed until late at night, and the bathroom I don’t have to share with anyone. I love waking up with the smell of croissants floating up from the cafés below, and I love playing host to Fatima, Farid, and other friends. I even love having responsibility for a household now – I love having to be organized enough to take out the trash when it needs to be taken out, pay electricity bills when they are due, replacing the tank of propane when I am out of gas.
And secondly, I have been awarded a grant! After three rejections, I finally, finally have a (conditional) award. I will receive this grant only on the condition that my research obtains human subjects approval, and quite a few questions remain to be answered before such approval will be granted, but still – it is such a relief, such an honor, to finally receive a positive response to my grant proposals. And such an exciting (but also a little scary) thought that I will actually be able to begin this research!
I feel lucky, and need to allow myself more often to realize how happy I am these days: I am living in a city I am in love with; I have a beautiful apartment in that city with everything I need; I have the opportunity to start the research project I have been dreaming about for so long, and I get to do it all while spending half of my week in the warm environment of the Dutch institute. And that sense of grounding – I’ll get there, too.