Friday, January 28, 2011

Home is...

Today when the girls and I were walking home from playgroup we ran into one of our neighbours.

"Good thing you're back from Egypt!" he called out, "They're really messed up!"

"Things are pretty tense," I agreed.

"The whole region is going crazy! The world is going crazy!"

"It is, it is," I agreed.

Sometimes it's hard for me to discuss politics with our neighbours, who welcomed us "home" with open arms from our "trip" to Egypt. They don't understand that it wasn't a trip—we lived there; it became part of us; Miriam has an Egyptian birth certificate. Egypt was our home. We love Egypt.

Besides that I have never lived here before, which is something the neighbours keep forgetting as well. Like when we had our cub scout meeting on Sunday and we were discussing all the babies in the ward that would be moving into nursery in April—Miriam is among them, wahoo!—and I said, "Oh, there's another baby with a weird last name. Ummm...I don't remember what it is but it has a W and a J in it."

The hostess provided their name and then said, "They've lived here forever! I can't believe you forgot their name."

A few minutes later she said, "Oh! I keep forgetting you didn't grow up here!"

It's like they know Andrew is a married man now but forget that he wasn't married when he was a geeky twelve-year-old kid. They seem to assume that I somehow leeched all of his childhood memories into my own brain. And I haven't. So things can get rather funny. 

All that aside, though, Rachel is very concerned about Egypt. As we were walking away from our neighbour she looked up at me and asked if the whole world really was going crazy and why it was a good thing we weren't in Egypt.

"Remember that movie we were watching this morning before we left?" We may or may not have spent the morning watching Al Jazeera. "That was a movie about what's happening in Egypt right now. The people are very angry."


"Because they want change and they haven't been getting it."


"Because sometimes change is hard to come by."

"Why aren't we there?"

"Because we're here."

"Does someone live in our house?"

"Probably, yes."

"Are they safe? Is our house safe?"

"I'm sure it is."

"Can we go back to Egypt?"

"You love Egypt, don't you?"

"Yes, I do."

"Me, too."

She also loves it here, too—she can almost repeat the pledge of allegiance word for word—but Egypt will always be a part of us. It hurts when people trivialize our experience, though I think it is especially painful to Rachel, who really, truly, honestly considers Egypt her home. Still. 


  1. I was reading this blog, and then struck by the fact that your husband is studying at BYU (I live in Salt Lake). I am sorry that people trivialize your lives in Egypt-- and I am sure it must be emotional to watch all that is going on.

  2. I remember getting to know you when you were blogging every day and sometimes twice a day from Egypt!
    You made me understand so many things about real life there.
    I will go there one day and this will happen because you made me love Egypt.
    Thank you, Nancy.
    My heart goes to you and your family, especially Rachel.

  3. The police have completely pulled out of Cairo. Civilians are now directing traffic. Civilians are forming human shields and protecting the Egyptian Museum (along with the military) against looting:

    Police and security are completely absent in Sinai. Military of course cannot access Sinai (Camp David Peace agreement with Israel).

    Civilian groups have formed "teams" to protect banks and national establishments.

    UPDATE: Armed thugs of the ruling party are randomly attacking civilians protecting Sinai establishments.

    Live feed here:

  4. Oh man. I sort of know what you mean by "your trip" trivializations. It wasn't a trip when I lived in France for 9 months. Or even the total of 6 months in Jordan. It's a lot bigger than that.

    I'm sorry that some people are stupid. And I'm really sorry about having to explain the unexplainable to your sweet children. Because how do you teach your children, who you have taught to share, and be kind, and treat others the way you would like to be treated, about a cruel oppressive regime that murders innocent civilians when they try to rebel and gain their freedom? How do you explain the insanity of revolutions and war to small children? I don't know.

    I'm glad you're not in the internet blackout zone right now, though, for the selfish reason of I enjoy reading your blog.

  5. This guy is a professional... he dismissed the police off the streets, and unleashed thugs on homes and malls. Now everyone demonstrating needs to go back home to protect his own neighborhood himself. He doesn't care if everyone dies, if everyone is robbed. It's not his priority, it never was.

    Some thugs were arrested by civilian patrols, and they found government security IDs on them, and government issued weapons! Mubarak didn't "dismiss" the police, he converted them into thugs to force people back home!

    The police thugs are looting everywhere, including upscale neighborhood now CONFIRMED: Maadi (where you guys used to live), Heliopolis (where my parents live), and Nasr City (since yesterday). Their is no police anymore, they are now all looters. The military is trying to spread out to neighborhoods.

    This is one professional dictator.

  6. @TareX: Follow me on Twitter (@andrewheiss) or on Facebook (

  7. I hope I don't say things that hurt people's feelings about where they've been. My parents did a study abroad in Israel when they were first married, they refer to it as a trip, but I wonder if they feel more like it was home. It was for 6 months....I'll have to ask them about that.

  8. Incidentally, you should know that at my house you are affectionately called "Nancy my Egypt friend". :D Egypt is VERY much a part of your identity to me.