That Foreign Land
by JAMES EL-MALLAKH
That foreign land
That land that only exists as a concept in my head. It’s all a dream that I want to wake up into. I want to run my fingers through its soil, to smell its wind, to meet its trees. I often wonder what the people are like, their social makeup, their ideologies. Soon I will know. It must be so fascinating. It must be. It is. That’s why I’m doing this.
The pictures I’ve seen tell a story. They capture a life outside mine. They’re rich with history, I carry them with me and now they give heat to my fire.
I spoke to my friend who’s getting married. I asked how he can give up so much so early. He says he knows what belongs, “we just get along,” as though that’s all there is to it.
I ask my dad if he has any regrets. He does but it’s not that simple. He says they’re not regrets so much as they’re choices and I know I’ll soon face the same thing.
My mom is worried
She loves her children and is concerned about my safety. I don’t expect there is much I can say to sooth her. After all, I’m a little concerned about my safety as well. But my mom knows the reality of the situation; she knows she can’t stop me from being independent and from having my own desires, no matter how crazy they may seem.
In a way she is telling me goodbye when she speaks to me. It’s as though she’s worried I won’t come back. It’s not like that at all.
But Maybe she’s saying goodbye to the son she knew, the one she raised for so many years. That son is leaving and He’ll never be back. Now I think I understand what my mom is saying.
“You know I love you very much,” she says in a very concerned way. I try and reassure her that it’ll not be for more than a couple of months and I’ll be with a companion. Where not really doing anything particularly dangerous, but my mother is always concerned about me when I’m not within sight. Maybe when I have kids I’ll understand where she’s coming from, but I don’t and I’m only confused, she’s just hurting herself by being so worrisome. I think she’ll be okay.
I sing songs to myself because I’m so excited
What does it hold? What does it say, that darkened plane a dream away?
What does it want? When is it cold, to warm the hearth with stories told?
How clear their peaks? How cold their streams, through trees of tightly woven seams?
Let’s hope I know what I’m doing
What is an adventure? An adventure is such because it’s not a vacation. It’s not easy, you don’t do it to relax. You do it to push yourself, to learn new things and to be challenged. It’s as much a way of facing yourself as it is of facing the world.
I think of my friends who don’t want the same things that I do. They don’t want to find themselves in a foreign land, hundreds of miles away from home, with no food, carrying all their possessions on their backs and be at the mercy of strangers who don’t even speak the same language. It only sounds bad, but trust me it’s a thrill! Don’t they want to find how life is different beyond their shores or to learn that great mystery? What is that great mystery? I don’t know. But I know where I can find it. I comes when it’s hard fought. It comes when you’ve spent days in mental and physical exhaustion. It comes when you feel how close you are to yourself and to the humanity of others after all the illusions are stripped away.
I imagine where I can find it. I imagine finding it in other people, in strangers. Why couldn’t I find that mystery in people at home? Because when you’re away from home it’s different. I can feel it.
I’ve always found my answers in others. That’s why I’m leaving, to go and learn some more. Hopefully then I can find why I’m leaving at all.