Atay bi Nana

A silver teapot with floral engravings sits on the counter in my Seattle apartment overlooking Lake Union. Picking up the metal teapot evokes memories of my time in Morocco. My thoughts smile at the memory of haggling the price from 600 dirhams down to 70 dirhams at a little shop in the marketplace. The medina’s bright colored rugs and the smell of the spices linger as I set the teapot on my electric stove. I reach for my green tea leaves bought from a Berber woman in Meknes. Heaping a couple spoons of sugar into the teapot, I recall her instructions on how to make the Moroccan tea: “Place mint leaves along with the tea and sugar in the pot then let sit for three minutes on the stovetop.” Steam thrusts out of the neck of the kettle dissolving into the weighted air as the Moroccan and American cultures mix and brew.

In a pot of tea, the cultures mix. I sit on the couch and stare at the skyscrapers framing Mount Rainer as the rain pounds on the windows. Three minutes pass and my mind has wandered to unknown, complex depths. I take the teapot and pour two glasses of tea from shoulder height to make bubbles appear around the rims of the steaming glass. I call to my roommate if she wants to try a cup of Aytay bi Nana. “It’s the Moroccan tea; we drank it everywhere,” I tell her. She enjoys a sip, tells me it’s different than other teas.

Different. A word rings true to my anxious soul. Anxiety – like a camel sitting on my chest. I have trouble breathing. There are layers of thoughts in my head like the swirling sand on the beaches in Asilah. I crave a macuda potato sandwich. I want to hear Arabic ring in my ears – it’s foreign tongue tickling my intrigue. I sip the tea with my roommate and savor the warmth that travels inside my body. I am momentarily comforted. Salam.

I can’t change everything. I can let this experience impact me; change within to change what surrounds. So I take to writing, making words travel from my apartment across nations. I’m still left resistant to everything around me. The normal balance I had so carefully curated dissipated in an instant of stepping off that fourteen-hour plane ride back to the States. In my steps to achieve a normalcy in my daily living, do I have to let go of my memories abroad? I sip tea.

I believe my calling is to communicate the injustices in the world. As I write, a turquoise sticker on my laptop stares back at me and reads “people matter”. A simple statement reminding me why I am here. Like the swirling of the tea leaves in hot water, the cultures I feel tied to spin in my heart. The twisting of anxieties can propel me into learning more about more culture, their history, the inequalities. By doing so, I may be able to be a small drop of change in an ocean of people who matter.

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