Tremor: 6.1, Depth: 2.3 miles, Location: 0.3 kilometers from Wadi Musa, Jordan.
I hope I don’t have to explain to people what exactly Petra is. The ancient city in the cliffs is the iconic image of Jordan, and was made famous by its constant depiction in film (most notably Indiana Jones), and today is the largest tourist attraction in Jordan. This allure did not escape those running the CIEE program, and so, Saturday morning, 130 students piled into the narrow Siq that leads from the city of Wadi Musa to the inside of the city. Unfortunately, I found myself a little preoccupied.
If you have read my blogs in the past, you know that using names isn’t really my style, and I’m not going to begin on the blog subtitled the way this one is. Instead, I will describe the two types of girls I often fall for, both of whom I have encountered on this trip, whom I will give two more false names to: Fiona Apple and Sharon Van Etten. (Okay, not exactly “false”…)
Fiona is that girl you meet first out of her element. She may be more of the “popular” persuasion, or of the “study” stereotype, or even might get lumped into the “religious” group, but when you meet her, she’s none of these. She’s just a person. And this is what surprises you most. She’s attractive, even often gorgeous, and really intelligent. It’s intimidating. If she doesn’t have a significant other, it’s clearly only a matter of waiting for her to decide. Fiona is the whole package. Often times, they engage you in a conversation, maybe two, before joining a group more suited to their level. However, sometimes, circumstances fall into place that require Fiona to engage in a platonic relationship with you. In these situations, you still find it somewhat surreal: This shouldn’t be happening. And yet it is, and you often end up an awkward mess in social situations. While I’ve yet to have an irreparably awkward situation with Fiona, it seems to be constantly on the horizon, and will be something I will constantly have to struggle to avoid.
The other type of girl, Sharon, is largely the opposite of Fiona. Where Fiona walks into a room and turns heads, Sharon could go on for a long period of time without ever being noticed. This isn’t for a lack of personality, or charm, but rather because she simply isn’t the instantly recognizable type. For some reason I will never understand, this is often misconstrued by both men and other women as shyness, when this is not always the case. Whatever the truth, she has an ability to capture my imagination like none other. Before any real, meaningful interaction, I am already smitten. The cause of this too is unknown, but it has happened many times before, and unfortunately, it can taint my interaction with the person. Any motion towards another is some end-of-the-world slight, and every time she sits next to me at lunch, it’s a sign from God that we will grow old together. A stronger man could perhaps push the thoughts from his mind, but not I.
So, into the Siq I went, crammed together with Fiona, and Sharon, and John, and 126 other students, all trying to figure out how to adapt and survive in this environment without killing each other. Unfortunately, the constant cramming became too much for me, and by the end of the visit to Petra, I nearly broke a friend’s camera for simply requesting that I take a picture of them. At the end of the day, I know I won’t be going home with stories about how Fiona totally made out with me at that party, or how I have this great new girlfriend Sharon from New Jersey (Where the actual Sharon Van Etten is from), but for some reason, that doesn’t keep me from trying. For now, the identities of Fiona and Sharon are known only to one friend from back home, and that doesn’t seem to want to change soon. But just as the sands cover and uncover the ancient city of Petra, feelings change on a whim, and what may seem so simple now may turn complicated. For now, I will just try to survive, with a little help from the real Fiona and Sharon.
P.S.: Werewolf and Don’t Do It from Fiona Apple and Sharon Van Etten respectively. Great songs.