CHAPTER 1 The Plan
Water off a duck……..Water off a duck, water off a duck. It never hurts to have a mantra. I kept repeating it over and over again as if it would change things. Other than always wearing clean underwear it was one of the best pieces of advice my mother had given me. I had scoured every inch of let’s go Europe backwards and forwards as if it were a book for expectant mothers-I knew every word. But nowhere did it mention this scenario. It might have been in that section that taught me to bungey down my bags while traveling by rail and always have a stash of Kleenex because U.S toilet paper is quite superior. Now, we were en route to an African continent. Of course things didn’t apply, I’d read Let’s GO Europe! This, and my being 20 had prepared me-I thought I was ready to take on the world. Death does that- it presses you to squeeze every drop out of life that can. Christmas day changed everything, but not because of the blessed Jesus swaddled in some barn surrounded by goats. I had felt the heaviness that I could not put my finger on. I had holed up with every John Irving book I could get my hands on, cause generally this escape tactic worked. The phone rang as if you could see the invasion of it’s ring in the air….in our peaceful world, like a first soprano hidden amidst the alto section. Bad news is often swift but this news hung there, like a layer of black pollution in a cloudless sky. Christmas hadn’t been my favorite holiday -but now it would forever be the time of year they took my brother off life support-and the weather was colder than usual that year, record lows. Panic was underlying but it was more like the feeling of urgency, like being drunk and needing to dance. We risk takers in life are almost waiting for life to flip our switch. I used to salivate for dangerous situations just to impart how powerfully controlled I felt. News of my brothers beating changed this about me..when I heard it I felt like I was sedated by the words, but rather than paralyze me, it pushed me to dig further like a reporter from the Inquirer, I’d stop at nothing, and recklessness took over. There may have been some martyrdom there, a sense of duty- and urge to live more colorfully than before, to live because I could and he could not? And here I was, in fucking Morocco, again -not according to the plan.