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?
“The carpet smelled of soap and my father’s aftershave.
I unrolled it in secret while he was at work, stepped onto it with bare feet and handled the remains of his packed earth prayer stone. Some days I sat cross-legged on the rug to imagine the earth falling away beneath me and the land my father came from, a land rich with tile rooftops and family who waved at me from bullet-marked balconies. Some days I knelt on the carpet, my face inches from its silky surface, inhaling his scent and gently tracing the beautiful shapes of an archway above a square building with the tip of one finger. Before rolling it back up, I pressed my forehead against the stone worn down to half its original circle from years of use. My father brought both the blue prayer carpet and the brown stone with him from Lebanon when he arrived in Oklahoma for college years before my birth. Always, I was careful not to disturb the lay of the fibers lest my father realize I had pulled it from the place it waited for him while he worked or slept. The carpet was more than a prized possession; it was a tangible link to the family he was inadvertently exiled from due to the commencement of the Lebanese Civil War. It was also a space dedicated to connection with the Divine.”