Wednesday, July 25, 2007
The Most Free
I always go back to one particular moment, for good reason I think. It has everything to do with abandon and freedom. At this particular point in the history of the world, the word freedom, in English, is way too stigmatized. So I’m going with “la Liberté”. This post is about my first and since only, taste of la Liberté.
Setting: l'Afrique, northwest coast, Essaouria, small ancient Portuguese port town outside of Marrakech, Morocco.
Time: May of 2004
Situation: complete and total abandonment of inhibitions, very far away from home, sand dune jumping
Costume: powder blue djellba, freshly bargained for deep in the bowels of the Marrakech medina.
The story: We (an old friend, turned traveling companion and guide and I) decided to take a walk away from civilization. Essouria is a sandy beach town where the desert meets the sea. We explored the expanse of the bay’s coastal line. The sand dunes were looming, intimidating, harshly expelling sand so violently that there was but no other option than to climb to the top of them to escape the suffocating, sand-filled air.
At the top we passed the time silent, separately contemplating the sea, with little laughter. Consumed and fulfilled with the view, my mind's eye was busy memorizing the setting, for forever. Before too long, enough time had passed and the thirst, inspired by the desert heat, set in. We decided to brave the trail back.
Upon reaching the very tip of the massive dune, we realized we had proverbially bitten off more than we could chew, in this case - climbed higher than we could dismount easily. My friend braved the downward plunge first with me to shortly follow. I never did. Not like that anyways.
It was in that moment, those seconds of decision making that I looked up and outward instead of down and forward. The beautiful and raging Atlantic coastline in front of me, my mind wandered to the many moments spent on the other side, wishing for here.
I knew that if I didn’t back up and take a running leap as fast and as powerful as I could off the steep downward drop of the sandy slope, that I would never be the woman I fancy myself, not really. I would never be free if I conservatively climbed down.
I yelled to my friend, now at the bottom, looking up. I motioned for him to catch my shoes. He couldn’t hear my voice, it wouldn’t travel with the wind – but he understood that I was going to jump it. He started waving his arms wildly, trying to persuade me not to jump it, just to climb down.
I counted on my fingers all of the moments in my life that I had known I was alive. I quickly added this one, backed up and took a running jump off the side of the dune. I was free. It was freedom, la Liberté, to be suspended in mid-air rushing towards a sandy earthen pillow. My eyes were set on the horizon, my fingers reaching in hopes of touching the water – some 50 yards away. My mind envisioning my body landing in the icy cold, under currented water not fit for swimming. My morbid obsession with the ocean allowing the images of my body floating out forever to a watery and FREE death to haunt me.
Yes, this was one of the top five, definitely. This moment, this space, this Africa.
~How I Feel About Paris Today~
The above described trip to Morocco took place on my last trip to Paris, the trip during which I promised myself never to wait three years again to return to that magical city that feels like the only home I’ve ever known. Please reference the date at the top of the post. This is why everyday is becoming so hard for me here. Over 3 years and starting to wonder (again) if any of it really happened.