Getting back from the Dead Sea really threw me back down to Earth and to the fact that my job in Jordan was primarily to learn Arabic, a lot of it and really really well. Back with all of my friends from our Dead Sea adventure, we took to our two take home tests, reading a really complicated current events article about clan-law in Jordan, learning a new set of 80 vocabulary words and writing reflection papers (in Arabic) about what we thought of the previous week’s lecture (Israeli-Palestinian relations). Needless to say, I started feeling kind of cruddy about the fact that I might spend my first minutes and hours of my third decade of life doing homework assignments, surrounded by friends who also seemed more involved in their exams and studies than my holiday.
But that thought definitely passed through my mind too soon. My apartment mates stole a plate of brownies from the kitchen fridge for me, stuck a candle in them, and headed up to the roof of our building with a bottle of wine. Even more of my friends were waiting on the roof to surprise me when we stepped out, after telling me they were too busy and sleepy in the previous hours.
It was a stark difference between my usual midnight birthday video chat with my best friend while my parents, like clockwork, walk up the stairs with flowers and balloons singing happy birthday. This year I was climbing the stairs to the roof while wonderful, new friends sang renditions of Happy Birthday to me in Arabic and English. For Zayneb, Rabia, Molly, Aeysha, Rocio, John, Rohan and Josh, in case you end up reading this, you guys are absolutely fantastic.
After a day of 4.5 hours of class and having lost my voice over the weekend, I rewarded myself with a nap upon getting home and then trip-advisored restaurants in a rush (in terms of travel tips, let it be known that Yelp does not exist in Jordan). By luck, I picked a beautiful restaurant in the style of an old villa where tables stood in the courtyard among bushes of pink azalias, pretty lanterns and a fountain.
So my twentieth birthday was celebrated with giant amounts hummus, tabouleh, kebba, sambousas, kafta and of course, bread. And another shout out here for all of the people that took time out of the evening of their first school night to come celebrate, eat and talk with me. On the way home a fraction of our group stopped by a cool cafe-sports bar-bookstore called Books@Cafe which is a pretty cool place with very slow service which was another great experience.
Thank you to everyone who wished me a Happy Birthday on Facebook, through an email, iMessage, What’s App message, SnapChat, and/or carrier pigeon. I had an awesome weekend, an amazing birthday night and a lovely dinner to celebrate it all. Thank you a hundred times to all of my Georgetown-Jordan friends; though I met them only a couple of weeks ago, they extended all of their love and friendship to me which makes me incredibly happy.
And then the biggest thank you goes out to my family, for loving me, for getting me to twenty, for supporting me more than I could ever describe and even letting me out of their tight embrace to spend my summer in Jordan.
And that was the story of how I turned twenty in the Middle East.