The leaves of the so-called “palm tree army” are transforming our September rains into barren hills of orange and brown earth, but we’re not complaining. Looking up at the open space around me, where pumpkin patches were not, I see a lesser frost in the forecast and those guttural sounds of a haunted sleepover. It’s been a long and quietly interesting year so far, and in the depths of it, I reflect.
In part, it’s the ability to turn unexpected situations into art. “Some cats in the war zone aren’t planning on staying because the Taliban can take them any day,” a friend told me as we talked about a journalist who was kidnapped in Kabul. (He is being held, along with his translator, by the Taliban and in the months before their disappearance, she had been reminded of the futility of her work: a video published online by Taliban supporters featured her promising to continue, in close proximity to bombed-out houses and mosques.)
It’s the in-betweenness of languages. In the tumult of September, when neighbors in our neighborhood would break out into our street for a quick beer, it’s one of many culture war battlefronts I’ve shined a light on this year. It’s the boundary between those who know and those who don’t. With friends and family from different countries, we’ve navigated the paradox that is shared proximity, with the expectation of meeting as many social standards as possible.