« | »

Scenes for Cairo Diary, III

Justine arrives in Cairo…

Chapter 4

What will you do with your one

wild and precious life?

-Mary Oliver

April 10, 2006 CE

The runway approach into Cairo International met the plane with jolting intimacy. Reaching for her briefcase and purse, Dr. Justine Jenner slipped into her now-snug shoes and stood up precariously, worming her way into a lightweight blue suit jacket. She was excited as well as apprehensive about what lay ahead. The community schools project would give her insight into today’s Egyptian girls, a chance to research the life of the Virgin Mary, as well as understand her own confusing roots. How am I to understand myself as a modern Egyptian woman? she wondered.  Am I an heir of Isis, Mary, or today’s Islamic women cloaked in a hijab? These were the questions on her mind.

Extensive new construction cluttered the landscape below the plane and protruded into the thick ribbon of leather sky. Was there an airport in the world that wasn’t under construction? Justine waited patiently for passengers crowding into the aisles. The familiar chime signaled that everyone was free to go. “Free to go.” What an unfamiliar, though exhilarating, notion.

She had never really felt “free to go.” Raised by an Egyptian mother and a Berkeley professor father, she was often caught in the cultural crosscurrents of two stalwart individuals, both with immutable ideas about raising their headstrong daughter.

Justine’s mother, Lucrezia, had deliberately sought to marry an American, assuming she’d have a more emancipated marriage than she could have had with an Egyptian. She was wrong. Morgan Jenner, with his roots in the American Midwest, was more than moderately protective of his exotic Egyptian wife and young daughter.  Each disappointing the other, her parents divorced shortly before Justine moved to Chicago for graduate school. Chicago was not the liberating solution she hoped. The endless demands of graduate work felt like a form of voluntary servitude.  But here Justine was, for the first time, free of her father’s control…free of school…assuming her first professional position…free to go…..

This entry was posted on Sunday, July 25th, 2010 at 8:57 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply