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90# Big city life

Updated: Apr 25, 2020

- I'm going to a farm by the mountains. Come with me!

- A farm? Sure, what for ?

- I can't explain right now. Trust me, you’re gonna love it.

I hadn’t seen my parents in over a year. Missing my flight would keep me in Paris and disappoint my mom. I paid the cab the requested 175 euros, cursed him for the rest of his days and arrived at the airport on time. The first snow had already fallen over the Atlas Mountains. The plane landed in Marrakesh at night. I smiled when I saw my parents in the arrival hall, and cried when I hugged my mom. An intense, pure and silent bliss. Heaven lies beneath a mother’s feet.

I was looking forward to reconnecting with my parents and friends. Connection through attention, conversation and quality time. That was my purpose for those six weeks in Marrakesh. I wanted to be attentive and considerate, to make every interaction count.

I woke up to a messenger call from Yus, he was coming by for breakfast. Yus is a childhood friend, the first friend I made when I moved to Morocco as a kid. He bullied me then protected me, and had always been like an older brother. Yus never approved nor understood my life choices, but he was always there, always caring, always watching over. My older brother.

He picked me up in a brand-new Audi, one hand on the wheel and the other holding his phone. In his Adidas tracksuit and Prada shades, he looked like a young, successful drug dealer. From the moment we hugged, I was sucked into his dimension. Always on the phone, either texting or planning the next thing, he did not stop. I watched him run his errands for three hours until he brought me back home for lunch. He said hi to my parents and left like the Tasmanian devil. On a hot streak, our conversations lasted almost a minute.

My parents were sitting at the dinner table when I walked in. There was a young lady too, my mom’s new study buddy. At 62, my mom had decided to return to Uni, two PhDs were apparently not enough. We made small talk while we ate. The same small talk everyone else made, and no one remembered.

Dad finished first and went upstairs for a quick nap while the coffee arrived. I helped with the dishes and we had coffee in the sunny conservatory. The afternoon coffee was our family ritual. Mom sipped her coffee while watching the news. Dad listened to the TV while browsing his phone. The young girl planned the next study session in silence. Dad resumed his day. Mom left with the girl to study. I had another coffee.

The same patterns repeated themselves with loved ones and strangers alike. People had busy days. They were always doing something, pausing only to eat or sleep. Everybody ran their activities on autopilot, one after the next, day after day. There was no stopping, no time for contemplation, no moment of peace.

While the tides and sun paced my days, theirs ticked with the clock. Stepping in that crazy rhythm was like learning to walk again. I resigned myself to being late, always behind, trying to catch up. For the first time I saw it from above. Fast, powerful and crushing everything on its path. An unstoppable machine. The big city life.

One afternoon I received a strange call from Yus. He wanted me to join him on a long ride in the outskirts of Marrakesh. Toward the mountains we went. Yus turned on a small street, then he entered a farm through a bumpy dirt road. He parked in front of a tiny adobe house. I stayed in the car. He returned five minutes later, closed the door and dropped a cellophane wrapped kitkat on my lap. We drove on that dirt road, came to a stop and walked outside. He put his phone on airplane mode.

We leaned on the car and faced the majestic Atlas Mountains. Their white peak blew a cold breeze on the crimson plains. There were no cars, no phone ringing, no noise. Only the wind. The sun warmed up our faces. I finished rolling and gave him the honour. Yus lit it up, took a long drag and closed his eyes. His head fell back and he exhaled a thick cloud that faded into the sky, carrying all his worries with it. “It’s always good”. He smiled and took another drag.

We watched the sun shine low over the red city. I grinned as it hit me.

That was it, the big city life moment of peace.


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