When, in 2007, I left Morocco, I never expected that it would be five years until my return. And last year, I finally did return, taking a friend and coworker to all my old haunts and watching in awe at how much everything had changed. It’s a cliché, I know, but when I left six years ago, a piece of my heart remained embedded somewhere in the walls of the old city.
Tomorrow, I go back again. This time I’m not focused on capturing the sights or retracing my steps, though I’ll be breathing in plenty of the air. As I’m mostly there for work, I’ll be spending most of my time in the city that I’ve always loathed, the one whose very name conjures up an aura of mystique but which is actually a dirty, polluted, impoverished mess of a metropolis. But I am taking two days to see somewhere new, a town where my oldest friend in the country—someone I haven’t laid eyes on in about seven years—lives, a town I’ve never set foot in.
It’s a strange feeling. Ask me why I moved to Morocco and I’ll give you my pre-cooked response, not all that different from the one Kate Hudson’s Penny Lane gives in Almost Famous. I don’t know if I really even know after all these years what the tipping point was, but it was partly this old friendship, the knowledge that on the other side, someone I knew was waiting, that gave me comfort in my decision.
Oddly enough, the other friend I’ll be spending time with might tell a similar story about me. Many of that friend’s decisions over the past few years stem back to an introduction I made years ago.
Strange, how our lives are just a series of tiny chances, and tiny decisions that can wildly alter our eventual destinations.