Saturday, March 06, 2004

The Haramlik

I’ve finally done it and moved out of the city into a rented house in the country. The goal, of course, is to have my own house, of my own design, on my own land, but for now a rented house is fine. The garden is still sand, so the floors are forever gritty, but that will change. The house is just big enough for myself, the dogs, and a guest or two, but naturally I had no less than four houseguests within 48 hours of the main move. (Other deliveries of items from the old Maadi house have been arriving daily to be absorbed into the general chaos in Abu Sir.) Luckily, my guests were four riders from the United States, all well versed in camping, which is what it was, though with a roof and a tiny bathroom, while workmen finished electricity, windows, and installed a kitchen.

Yesterday my guests traveled to Sinai to see Sharm el Sheikh and Saint Katherine for two days, leaving the menagerie and myself alone in the house for the first time. It’s a good fit for us. The parrots haven’t entirely adjusted to the freedom of their new aviaries, but they seem to be happy with them. The cats enjoy having mastery of the laundry room and the back garden. We are making the house ours. The Cretan birds are flying over the front door to welcome visitors, paintings are being hung in all the right places and the house is gathering its soul around us. One of my neighbours rode by a couple of mornings ago and announced that he’d named my house The Haramlik, which I believe is actually Turkish, meaning The Women’s House. The Haramlik it is.

For me this is a period of regeneration, the time that I needed after losing my last life in the plane crash four years ago. I’ve withdrawn from the companies for the most part, I’m going to be concentrating on where I am, what I need to do here, and where I want to be over the next few years. I have my writing, my animals and a lot of thinking to do. So many things, many of them material such as my Cretan birds, paintings, pottery, and statues, seem to have been selected over many years just to fit into my house, that I want to go back to examine the ways that they have all come together.

This is also the Women’s House in another sense, that so many of my friends are women alone whose children have grown and moved on and who need the support and help of each other to maintain our spirits and directions. None of us are feeble, we all have our particular works, but we need that sense of community. I hope that in some respect this becomes a sanctuary where we can find a cup of tea and some peace when it is needed.