As I write this, it’s exactly four weeks since I was waiting for a cab to take me to the airport for the first leg of my trip to Kurdistan. (It’s not a complicated journey. Newcastle to Heathrow, night at the Hilton, get up at stupid o’clock, fly to Vienna then on to Erbil. About 7 and a half hours in the air, about 24 hours altogether. In knitting terms: a sock. In reading terms: a book, though not a fat one.)
It’s been quite an almost-month. The work in Kurdistan was rewarding, not to say compelling, and the place itself ate up a little bit more of my heart. The friends I made last time turned out to be friends indeed, sharing time and hospitality and tips about how to get along. I made new bonds with my colleagues (I didn’t go alone this time) and I learned to pace myself, be gentle with myself, and forgive myself and others for not being 100%on top of our games 100% of the time. I learned to shower swiftly in case the hot water (or even the water) ran out. I got better at communicating where English is limited, and I bought a CD to help me learn Kurdish so I can make more of an effort next time. A Syrian musician made me cry, an old lady made me humble, a woman I’d never met made the food that I love and made me feel welcome when I was so very far away from home. (And I had my dress made. But that is getting a post all of its own.)
I missed my family. I’ve never been away from Alan for two weeks; it was wonderful to be reunited when I got back to Heathrow. We drove to Portsmouth and then went on to France, where we spent a blissful week resting, pottering, eating ice cream and cheese and pate and bread and macarons, sleeping, and generally loving being together. We visited the Bayeux tapestry, we were mugged by a nun, we ate long lazy lunches at waterside restaurants, we slept, we finished each others’ sentences.
And, late on Tuesday night, we got back to Northumberland, and reunited with the family here. And I am feeling rested, and happy, and calm, and lucky, lucky, lucky to be alive. All the more so as I feel a bit like that most of the time.