I wrote The Letter No One Wrote My Mother many months before publishing it here. It was a private piece, a letter specific to the situation of a friend. I wrote it and I shared it with her, then I sat on it, afraid of how big it felt. I knew it was a piece that could help others, but to speak up was forbidden since childhood. The irony was not lost on me: that I was able to plead authentically with a friend that she change her situation, but not
The New Year’s resolution has long been a source of personal failure. As a child, I would handcraft a list of behavioral changes and specific goals I intended to accomplish the following year. I imagined that midnight on December 31st was as magical as Santa. I would wake on New Year’s Day refreshed and improved, capable of success in every imaginable way. I was wrong. Every year I was wrong until I began to despise the changing of the calendar. I was not going to write X number or words
When I was 16, I started letting people believe that I was white. In 1996, my family relocated upward from the Bible Belt. We moved from the southwest corner of Arkansas to the Midwest. At sixteen, I experienced a new definition of self — which, for me, meant shedding my ethnic heritage and the abuse that came with it. My coming of age was more than an exit from youthful innocence. It was an escape. Read more of “Why I Passed For White” in Medium’s The Archipelago.
As Winter approaches, I am discovering the strength of my relationship with light. Winter is the season of quiet. Leaves have long since fallen from the trees, life is slowing, and the daylight is capped by late and early calls for sleep. While the ground has not yet hardened with cold, I feel the same foreboding that arrives every Winter. I am lost. I am trapped. I must wait, clawing at the ceilings as I search desperately for sunlight. In Summer, you will find me outside, face upturned during the
My father, throughout my life, has clung to small food rituals. Here is how you spread the labneh on the pocket bread. Here is how you open the pocket bread. Now the olives. Now the tomatoes. Now the salt and pepper. Here, now. Here. This is how you drizzle the oil. Then we roll it. Then we eat it and, ahhh. Call me Baba, he would tell me when I called him Dad. It was not a food ritual, but he asked more than once. It feels weird, I would tell
Amy Gigi Alexander is a travel writer and artist publishing a series of essays called Stories of Good. She has selected my piece, “The Magic of Carpet Rides” as a feature of this series. This piece is about much more than a prayer rug, my father, or faith. It is about traversing time and space–the journeys we take with the simplest motions. Where have you journeyed and how have you arrived? Click here for the full essay. “The carpet smelled of soap and my father’s aftershave. I unrolled it in
Perhaps it was growing up in the Southwest. Perhaps it was seeing my father struggle with unwanted exile from his country during the Lebanese Civil War, or the endless early morning phone calls that punctuated our sleep with the death of a loved one due to gunfire and bombs. I don’t know the exact reason, but Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving afflict me with an intense holiday sadness. It is difficult not to count up bodies at a time when I am meant to reflect
My father’s father, “Jido” to me, was a man of integrity and great character. When he is remembered, it is with love and admiration. He lived with my family in the United States for a time. We were in Oklahoma. I was three and four, and my younger sister was just born. Jido along with my father’s mother, Tayta, and my aunt Ghada, were layers in our household. Perhaps it is rare, but I wonder if this is not true for everyone: I had a person in my life who
In 2003, I spent two months in Lebanon. Our family home is built at the peak of a mountain. The drive is gated in black iron. There is an orchard running the length of the house and drive, and a balcony where I sat to drink tea and coffee with my grandparents while they still lived. Food is a highlight of Lebanese culture. I was invited into my youngest aunt, Ghada’s kitchen as she pinched dough and mixed fillings. She taught me to cook with my eyes and my nose.
What happens when the diet everyone says will work for you . . . doesn’t? Over the last two years I have developed a careful relationship with food. I’ve had to give up gluten and dairy (originally in order to recover from constant respiratory infections). This means no processed foods for the most part. I also consume vastly less sugar. It’s quite a change from my carb-heavy (and weighty) days of yore. I lost 100 lbs and five dress sizes. There have been other profound changes. If you’d like to