When you look for love in a city like Cairo, you'll soon realise, like Karim Rahman, that you were never really single anyway...
Soulmate: such a small word with such big connotations.
I think it's obvious by now that I'm a sucker for storylines that include the words "meant to be," "fate," or variations of. However, out of all the diction that describes such a binding and everlasting commitment, “soulmate” seems to be the one that resonates the most with me. It's sharp, it's effective and it hits the spot perfectly (which is more than I can say about most of my exes). Over the course of writing this column, it has evolved from a wannabe-socialite's point of view, to weekly musings about dating and (occasionally) sex. But more importantly, it has turned into a journal about me trying to find that elusive soulmate.
Ladies and gentlemen, I think I finally did.
It's quite customary for your average Cairene to escape the big city whenever they can. Holidays, weekends or even a quick road trip in the middle of the week is encouraged (nay, necessary) to ensure your survival in Cairo. Naturally, when a Cairene is presented with an eight-day holiday, they go fucking crazy. Bags are packed in a split second and next thing you know, they're out of city limits and onto the open roads. Obviously, when Eid rolled around, I did the exact same thing: I stuffed my entire wardrobe into a suitcase (you never know how many outfits you might need), tied off all loose ends and headed to Sokhna. I, of course, over-glamourised this trip in my head. This was a chance for me to get some perspective on my life, to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, to rethink things and maybe re-evaluate some of my life choices. What actually happened in Sokhna was none of the above; just a lot of tequila.
Surprisingly enough, two days into my getaway and I was starting to crave the city life. Relaxing is all well and good, but it's too…relaxing. As fun as it may be spending five days with a bottle as your best friend and sobriety as your worst enemy, I was itching for a lethal dose of Cairo's noxious fumes and just one day of getting stuck in traffic. It sounded crazy and for the rest of the trip I tried to stifle that inane desire, but it was always nagging at me in the back of my head. G thought it had something to do with the fact that Artist was back in town and that I left the city before we had a chance to meet. I attributed it to the fact that I ran into Big on the beach (drunk off my ass, I might add) and realised that you can take the drama queen (that's me) out of the dramatic-city-based-situations, but you can't take the dramatic-city-based-situations out of the drama queen (surprisingly, dramatic situations like to tan as well). However, my run in with Big wasn't that dramatic. In fact, it was quite nice. Pleasant, actually. Borderline civil, if you ask me. That's when I realised I was the one creating the drama in my head. I was craving the dramatic altercations that, to me, are intrinsically linked to Cairo as Blair Waldorf is to Chuck Bass. Which is why I hitched a ride with a friend and, that very same afternoon, I was hightailing it back to the big city.
That's when I realised I was in love with Cairo.
Don't get me wrong, I wanted to kill myself two hours after I set foot in the city. Cairo drives me up the wall; I hate how culturally repressed people are here, I hate how dirty it is, I hate how crowded it is. I hate the scene and I hate the noise. But at the same time, I love how everything seems to blend together, creating that perfectly eclectic and chaotic mesh of experiences. For someone who's been living here (almost) their entire lives, I sound like an expat. But it's true. No other city in the world will be able to compete with how perfect of a backdrop Cairo has been to my incredibly, frustratingly dramatic rollercoaster ride of a life. Where else would I wake up late for a breakfast thing with Artist and find myself running in the street, looking for a cab while simultaneously applying deodorant and putting my shoes on (more on that later)? Where else would I be able to appreciate a nice, crisp winter night because every nine out of 12 months are fucking hot as hell (and not in the good way)? Where else would finding a coffee shop or a bar open at 3 AM be completely normal and, actually, expected? Hell, McDonald's fucking delivers here.
The more I think about it, the more I realise that my relationship with Cairo is the perfect example of a bad relationship. You can't wait to get out of it, yet somehow, the mere notion of leaving seems so far off and inconceivable. You've had more bad memories in it than you can count but, on the other hand, the good ones can never be replaced or duplicated. You know it inside out, like the back of your hand, to the point that it borders on getting tedious yet, somehow, it always manages to surprise you.
I'm not the first pretentious little bitch to write about the exciting mysteries and wonder of Cairo, nor will I be the last. But, since I do write a column that mainly focuses on dating and relationships, I thought I'd come clean to all my past, present (scratch that) and future partners.
Cairo is my soulmate and anyone that could replace it has some fucking big shoes to fill.