Coming Home: My Journey of Self Discovery
For it is not you or I that is important, neither what sort we might be nor how we came to be each where we are. What is important is anyone’s coming awake and discovering a place, finding in full orbit a spinning globe one can lean over, catch, and jump on. What is important is the moment of opening a life and feeling it touch—with an electric hiss and cry—this speckled mineral sphere, our present world. -Annie Dillard, An American Childhood
It’s true, there was a man who fell in and out of love with me over a falafel sandwich, but that and the sexual harassment women face traveling is a story for another day.
Thank you for reading this month. I know that my posts were random but I’m grateful I had the opportunity to share with you some pieces from a larger body of writing I have slowly been working on about my experience traveling to Egypt and ultimately, coming home.
Every morning in Cairo I woke up with the first call to prayer at dawn, brewed coffee, and then sat down to write, which felt like a luxury after working an ill-fitted 9-5 job, and has since become one of my favorite routines. I am a morning person and as a rule, I do a better job of living—more relaxed, creative, curious, and thoughtful—when I am writing, so for me, the two are a perfect combo.
I went to Egypt to kick-start my career as an arts entrepreneur but really, I needed a change of scenery. I was on the survival treadmill and I needed to do something, anything, to recollect myself after a divorce and rough couple of years. You no doubt have your own way of jumpstarting your own aching or lost soul. For me, traveling is it. I knew of a cool art gallery in Cairo that agreed to have me on as an intern (another story for another day) so I quit my job and packed my bags, not knowing exactly how long I would stay or even what I would do.
After a few months of living and working in Cairo, I decided to come home. I just felt in my gut that it was time. Two days after I left Egypt, the Egyptian revolution unexpectedly broke out. My flat-mates, still living across the street from the pyramids ultimately had to be evacuated from the country. I, however, was nestled in a quiet Moroccan mountain village making bread with women who weave rugs for a living when Mubarak fell. With no internet access, I had no way to reassure friends and family that I was safe, away from the chaos on Cairo’s streets, enjoying a very extended layover on my way home.
Back in Chicago, I began to settle into my own life for what felt like the first time. Chicago has always been my home, but until now, I have never made it my home. I just lived here, unintentionally. It’s been a really slow but rewarding process to dig in to my own dreams and community, to plant seeds, to begin to make them grow. I didn’t go back to office work. Instead I took on odd jobs while laying the groundwork for my quilting business where I sew quilts with fabric I design and handprint. I am very excited and happy about the whole thing. Come check my quilts and blog out at www.allisonhales.com but be warned: the site is not finished. Like everything else in my life, it’s in process, but I’d love to have you stop by anyway! Don’t mind the dust. Watch as I build the site and start selling, hopefully, by this fall! I’ll have beautiful art and stories about being a woman entrepreneur to share on my blog and, I hope, more travel stories! Every day quilting amazes me for the way it keeps me tied to my roots, but even with a business based in Chicago, which very much keeps my feet planted squarely at home, you didn’t think I would stop plotting my next trip, did you?
Thanks again for reading and buen viaje!