Tangier is inarguably Somewhere Else. As a woman of a certain age and experience, it is an ongoing project to find a spot that is just right to live out my happy golden years. Due to a slight miscalculation, made in my rollicking misspent prolonged youth, my happy golden years will be lived out in the parallel universe. My decrepit, old age is likely to be lived out, right here, chained to this damn desk.
I see you scratching your collective heads wondering, “Why Elroy, why Tangier? Why not a nicely discounted condo in Arizona, or a desirable lot with a trailer and shuffleboard in Florida? What if you get sick? You don’t know anyone there.” You’re right. I don’t know a soul there. I’m pretty sure there are people there I’d like to know; new people whose stories I haven’t heard, fresh people who haven’t heard my stories.
North Africa, the Middle East, and India have always fascinated me. I should have gone when I was younger but I was enmeshed in misguided, failed acquaintances, invested in Hollywood propaganda. Hormones trick people into believing they must be paired. I wasted a lot of my time with gentlemen who did not share my interpretation of life. In fairness, I must concede the poor dears wasted their time too.
I did travel in SE Asia when I was young and I loved it. I was left unattended, on my own for months on end. I wasn’t the least bit timid. The mixed aromas of joss, things rotting, flowers blooming, and raw sewage provided olfactory background to my adventures. The worn, soft edges of the architecture were a reassuring contradiction to human mortality. The sense of being other and the label ex-pat fit perfectly, in the drama in my head. In my imagination, I lived in the time of British colonialism and rubber plantations. In reality, I was admiring the Chai Thais on Bugis Street, wishing I could be as pretty as a man pretending to be a woman. The irony doesn’t escape me. Bugis Street has been revitalized. The Chai Thais are gone. An era is over. I was there before it ended, thinking about the era that ended before I got there.
Tangier will be different. I won’t be disappointed because I haven’t been there so I won’t know what I missed.