The gate to the garden

It’s warm but not hot in the shade. The healthy grass beneath me tickles my toes and pokes its way between my heels and the cuffs of my jeans. There’s a familiar smell that I cannot place. It floats from the house and into the garden where we gather around two large tables pushed together and covered with white doilies and plastic sheets. Some girls sit together, practically on top of each other on the small, driftwood benches. A few of us stand behind others, gently braiding hair in a way that suggests that we care more about our sister’s comfort than the final product of the braid.

My fingers slide through healthy locks of dark hair and I can feel the eyes of the older adults as they observe our show of love through physical touch. We aren’t too loud, we aren’t dead silent. We are enjoying each other’s company. We have only been a family for a couple of weeks. Under normal circumstances, we wouldn’t already be koombayah-ing and braiding hair. Under normal circumstances, I would feel silly showing this much physical affection.

I don’t think these are normal circumstances. A 12-hour plane trip. Hours napping together and chatting softly on the bus. Silly voices during dinner and secrets whispered in hotel lobbies. Concerns and cracking voices.

I think of us as sisters. I think 
this is not normal, but definitely okay. It’s beautiful, in fact, that we’ve decided to embrace each other so fully and so quickly. There’s a distinct lack of competition or rivalry and we find comfort in one another. This feels so different from what we’re taught to feel around other women. I’m not intimidated by their intellect, independence, ability, or courage.

What did I do to deserve the blessing of living with them?

This garden feels like Eden, the trees laden with fruits and the air saturated in love. I finish the braid and rest my hands on her shoulders until it’s time for Moroccan second-lunch.IMG_1092


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