What I like about my neighborhood III
Ali was away for the past couple of months to Egypt visiting family, eating well, relaxing. Though I'd become friendly enough with the people minding the store, I did miss him. Over the years, the morning coffee stop had turned turned into cafe time with him, as if we had time, I'd drink my cup with him and we'd get into solving the world's problems. In the summers, he'd bring me tomatoes, peppers and basil from his garden. In the fall, I'd save a few jars of whatever jams and jellies I've made for him and his family. This little time very often makes my day.
Last week, he finally returned, but I left for Buffalo. Didn't get to see him and ask about Home until yesterday. He put me up to date on things - how the food was, how nice it was to see the family, how much better the weather was. Assured me that no one was shooting people up in the Mean Streets of Alexandria while he was there.
Told me to wait a second and went into the stockroom. He came back out with a glittery little thing and said that it was a gift from Egypt. I looked at it and laughed - "really Ali, the best gift is your getting back here safe and sound!" His answer to that was that, though he didn't feel like coming back here for the hardest season of the year, he couldn't forget his friends. We're part of what makes America great for him.
My little candle painted to look like Tutankhamun's funerary mask sits on a shelf next to my computer monitor. I love to look at it; it makes me smile.