Sometimes I take the dogs to a nearby large lake and we take the path that goes all around. And somewhere on the western side of the lake there are two signs, one that points the way to going all around, and the other pointing you in the direction of Old Egypt Road. I always pause there and ask myself which way I’m going.
Long ago, Egypt was the land of slavery. Generation upon generation of Israelites were forced to build pyramids and tombs till a man called Moses led them out of Egypt and into freedom. God broke the will of the Pharoah, split the Red Sea, drowned the bad guys, gathered everybody at Sinai, and gave them the Ten Commandments.
That was followed by a Golden Calf and lots of moaning and groaning about how life wasn’t so bad in good old Egypt, the food was better for one thing, so God figured that people needed to wander for a bit in the desert to really get what he was offering. He gave up on the older generation and let them die, hoping for better things from the young ones.
Whenever I come by this intersection of paths I stand and look at the sign towards Old Egypt Road. Do I want to go back, or do I want to finish the loop around the lake?
Old Egypt is not necessarily about hard labor or a cruel taskmaster. How many of us spend our lives working really hard? True, we probably have more comfy homes and a car, wide-screen TV, video games, and Alexa. By the accounts of many sociologists, we pay for that by working much longer hours than people did long ago. We also don’t like our bosses, don’t like our presidents. Maybe Old Egypt wasn’t so bad after all.
I stand there and consider it. I met a man recently—
“Not another date!”
“Relax, Aussie, not another date. They come once every 10 years or so—”
“Good, then I’ll probably be dead when the next one comes around.”
–and he told me that he elected not to lead a conventional life. So, he got into his car and traveled all around the country, down to Latin America, then into Europe—
“Did he take the bridge or the tunnel?”
–and all around, including Africa and Asia, and he did many different things. I told him that I also decided not to live a conventional life, so I sat.
“In the same place?”
“Yup, Aussie, in the same place. I’ve visited different places, met different people, but in some way I never got up from that sitting, know what I mean?”
Sometimes I want to go in the direction of Old Egypt Road. I want to get out of my skin, get out of my life. Go to the kitchen and scrabble around for chocolate. Look at photos of Bernie and get nostalgic. Don’t talk to me about the One Body, it’s just Eve the little red blood cell racing around here and there, reaching fingers and toes, bringing blood and taking it away, full of her own self-importance.
“Sounds good to me.”
“It’s just half of it, Aussie, that’s the trouble.”
“Half is better than nothing.”
“Not necessarily, Auss. Go play with Henry.”
Or else I follow the path that goes around the lake and will bring me back to my car. We’ll pass a tiny beach with a circle of rocks marking where people have made a fire. We’ll examine how clear the water is, I’ll put a hand in to feel the cold and then spill the water across my face. Aussie will go in up to her belly; she could stay in all day.
Eventually we’ll make it all the way around and head out to the small parking lot that holds 7 cars max, I’ll open the back door and then the windows, check I have everything (including two dogs) and head back home. Text Jimena that the list of school supplies is not complete, a few questions about backpacks.
Like I said, I never got up.
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