The Bracelet and The Key

I have found my bracelet. Mysteriously like everything else that happens here in Colombia. In this mixture of  Africa, Europe and indigenous culture we can expect anything to happen. I however, never expected   for the first email that I got as a response to my last to come from Palestine, from my first Palestinian friend I had met the first day when I crossed the separation wall. That day it was the birthday of his best friend, and so Lorenzo (who is now here with me) was also there. It was in Ahmad s house that I met Lorenzo for the first time. This only came to mind as I read Ahmads email saying he thought it was a beautiful story and that he wished I found my misplaced bracelet, and that he wished he could be here with us.

I was  exasperated first to find out Ahmad read me. I somehow never thought he did. Then I was touched he  understood it was important for me a lost  bracelet, as I did understand in life sometimes we put emotions in things. And I had mine  ( feelings of belonging) there. And somehow in reading his words, I remembered the keys Palestinians kept since Al Naqbah ( the great disaster when Palestinians lost their houses..). Palestinians kept
the key to the front door of their houses, when they had to leave them in 48, hoping one day to return.The key is full of symbolic meaning. And I till  very recently used to feel we should all just let things go and move on. Now thought I still carry this belief in me, I understand, we must do it, but not before profoundly understanding where it came from. And yesterday I understood that well.

We went out dancing, Cartagena is the land of dancing. I love dancing. I have friends from my hostel, but also locals now. And as usual I put people together. And I danced, and danced. And yet…. there was this loneliness in me last night so I walked away from my friends…and I wandered off. I was taken by a looking like middle eastern guy to dance. He was a brilliant dancer. And I was silent. I danced without saying anything particular of me. And I felt so happy. And suddenly just as he came from nowhere… he disappeared.

I, for my own shortcomings, felt abandoned, and even sadder… And I kept wandering in that place. I had a desire to cry. In fact, I just could not contain my tears… so I cried feeling like a boat that is wandering aimlessly and does not want to be seen by any fellow sails men. I remembered Ishmael in Moby Dick.

And as I made my way around and was taken to dance by other Colombians. I decided to just not care about anything anymore yet I was sad and did not want to loose connection to what i felt.. It took me so much to get here. I could not trace where it came from this saddness. Or maybe, I could the beginnings of it… but not deeply it…. I had no courage to follow the thread of my feeling of loss. And suddenly, I bumped into the guy again. And I decided to talk to him.

It was a great thing to do. Because now he has a story. My abandonment was just mine. And it had no relationship to the world.

This middle eastern looking like, came from San Diego. He was born out of a father that came form Colombia, and a mother from Mexico. Though he looked in his 30s he was 19. He had just started a trip through South America to find out where he came from. His own father left Colombia when he was 11 to become American . Chris, the boy, had never been here. He was also a climber and had saved money to come to a trip to south america. It would pass through Brazil as in California he joined some Brazilian church.

So we stood out and talked. He told me about being raised by a grandmother who usually had described the house she was from. It was hand made by the family. It was there that his father was born. Now he had been to Bogota and had visited this house. I had tears in my eyes listening to him trace back the journey of his life. Discovering all that he came from, and yet knew not. We spent hours speaking and I understood why I needed to make internal home.

I understood the keys from Palestine. I understood the need we all have to go back and understand things. This boy is wondering south america learning a new language and meeting people. He is deeply religious… and yet all I could see of his trip was how human it was.

By the time he finishes he expects to be able to speak better Spanish. He expects to talk more to his family. I expect him to find out, what is south american of him. I understood last night so much of this existential quest. I understood though I did not carry a key like that of Al Naqbah ( the great disaster) I also did wish I could go back to my home. Yet for all of us it might be unreachable. We do not need the key, nor the house, but somehow we need to understand where do we come from.

Being here makes me understand so much of me as a traveler. It also makes me understand Al Naqbah much more deeply. So I wish one day my Palestinian friends will, (like I hope I do) understand we dont need to carry a key, or a bracelet. We need to carry a bigger space inside. One that allows us to create what we are. I do understand though today that we all must take this journey to an nonexistent past by carrying some special things.

So as I mysteriously reencounter my bracelet, jut as I loose my key to my lock. I am taken by joy the bracelet is still containing me, while happiness the lock can be broke. I ask for someone to break it. I get my passport back, my money and I feel both contained by those I love, and yet free to find out where I ll go.

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