An undercurrent of solitude breeds miracles of thought. There is something about quiet, dark rooms that allows me to extend so deeply into myself that I am often afraid to fall off some unknown metaphorical edge of consciousness. Deprived of the hustle-bustle of my often alarmingly loud life, I begin to recognize a bizarre layering in my mind that is often inaccessible to me: sandwiched memories, forgotten havens, pleasures and sorrows. In silence, I am finally able to glimpse the sharp corners, the crossroads, and the invisible road bumps that tend to throw me into cyclones of undecipherable emotion. There is a woman struggling with an identity battle in here. A woman without home or land, searching for a hint of who and what she is. It takes an immense amount of courage not to leap away from her. It would be easier to turn my head and walk away. It would be easier to fill the room with sound and light: distractions at the very least, and at the very most accomplices to my conscious neglect of the storm inside me.
In solitude, I finally allow myself to remember that I am not an ordinary woman. There is no such thing as an ordinary woman, yet the idea of her is always present and so easy to conjure and believe in. A dab of lipstick here, a shade of eyeliner, a wisp of ordinary laughter are all it takes to become this imaginary and incomplete rendition of whoever she is. Who I really am is much more difficult to deal with.
In solitude, I am able to hold my breath and absorb the intricate details of my internal phenomenon. Even in complete silence, it is never quiet in my mind. Even as the city ices over, the fire in my heart spits and rages. It does not rage with anger, but with love. It is a fire that is kindled by memories of Jerusalem, by the smell of fresh kaek bread drifting through my window on warm summer mornings. A wild fire: one that is given new life when the Church bells ring, when fresh olive oil and thyme touch the lips, and when a droplet of Arak intoxicates the senses. It is the kind of fire that is a curse upon those who house it, and a lost miracle for those who lack it. A fire of chocolate eyes, olive skin, and curly hair.
In solitude, the parting of seas and skies is inevitable. There is no capsule, no vacuum that can suppress the noise that thunders over the silence like the sounds of bullets echoing in the Palestinian night. There is no vehicle, no body that can contain the infinite grains of sand that travel with the wind across the desert and land between the olive trees in my mind. In the darkness: wholeness and emptiness co-exist. There is war here, and promise of peace. There is pain here, as bottomless as the old well that yields fresh water but never quenches the generations of thirst. Yet there is love here: boundless, and searching for home.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; Seek, and you will find; Knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). So I will ask until my breath runs out; I will seek until I am sitting at the very edge of the earth; and I will knock. I will knock until my hands bleed. And I will find myself.