9/52

New York

I have been spending the last two weekends in a intensive beginner’s Spanish class, opening my mind once again to the wonder of learning a new language. I love the feeling of collecting every new word, new grammar rule and new pronunciation as if they were little pieces of a a grand puzzle I need to unravel another world. Yo estudio español para ir a Colombia, porque quiero conocer gente. For someone who loves connecting and communicating with people, knowing the language is essential. And it’s been a rather relief that Spanish, unlike Arabic, feels a lot more natural to me thanks to French.

Then there is my daughter, who’s mind is already much more wide open with relentless curiosity and wise beyond her two years, juggling three to four languages. She never ceases to surprise me. When I met up with her today after my Spanish class and told her “yo hablo espanol” she replied in a matter-of-fact manner “like Nicholas”. Indeed, Nicholas is the only classmate in her class that speaks Spanish because his mom is from Colombia.

With openness in your mind and heart there will be nothing in the world you cannot conquer, and that may be the most important lesson I can teach her.

(This is the little bulb my daughter brought back from school last Christmas as a gift for us, now opened up in full bloom)

9/52 Open

Beirut

Open: the door of the concierge’s house when we go downstairs with a jar of passata that needs opening. He’s not there but we find his sweet wife and their 5 children tangled in her skirts, always open eyed curious. At first she can’t get the lid off either but then she shows me a trick with the point of a knife and with a pop the lid lifts and we laugh.

Open: the door of the other car, which both the taxi driver and I notice, when we stop in traffic on the highway. Our driver rolls down his window and calls out, but the other driver doesn’t hear and soon the traffic is moving again, waiting for no-one, open door or not, and we raise our eyebrows at each other in the rear view mirror, exchanging a look in the shape of a shrug.

Opened: the door of the nursery classroom, sometimes by the teacher, sometimes by you and sometimes by me- wearing a green coat or a beige coat or even a purple coat- but no matter what, the story of ‘mama always comes back’, already told a hundred times, always ends the same way with a ‘big smiley cuddle’ as you jump into my arms, waiting wide open.

Open: the doors of Petra, entrances into the body of the world, leaving us all open-eyed in wonder.