It is the middle of the night in Banha, Egypt. I go to the balcony and watch the faded holographic flags, leftover from Eid Fitr, hanging on the laundry line in collapsed arrays like chains of ghosts floating in tethered unison through the night breeze. Down to my left, piles of wood beams from the construction of an apartment building next door lay broken like discarded bones.
It’s a night to remember things. A night to remember when it was 1988, and how good it felt to have the right comb and bristled brush to tease my bangs high, and finish its perfection with the right pump hairspray. To remember in those days, my future was all about having the right baggy pants and dangly earrings, dancing in the right club to the very best pop songs with the right boy.
Then…to remember how I gave up all those cute ideas of being a pop culture princess to become devoted to God. To give up all my mixtapes of rare songs, some recorded as early as age 10, in favor of Petra cassettes. To give up my matching paisley pant-sets and crepe babydoll dresses for tee shirts with Bible quotes. To give up my brown eyeliner and scarlet lipstick and permed hair for a plain face and natural hair.
I was 15, and I had courage. Courage to give up a life I knew and dreamt about for something with more meaning and value. Just a kid, ready to live for purpose. It was the start of being the real Amy.
I remember four years ago falling in love. Wishing to know everything about that man- his childhood, his exotic Egyptian life, his work at the kindergarten. And that man, he was by my side during the past four years when I’ve learned a lot more about what courage really means, and what it doesn’t mean.
One thing I know for sure: Amy is courageous. I went into things and kept on going even when I had no clue what I was in for, or how hard it would be. I kept going even when I failed, even when I doubted, even when I made mistakes. And I am still going. In pieces or whole, with direction or without, I am going.
One of the most important things I learned about having courage is that the bravest thing of all is being willing to go even when failure could happen. When you might have to lose it all and go right back to where you started from. When you might have to give up everything that you thought made you strong, to find that your strength came from something deeper. True courage is being able to walk among the tombstones of memories of who you were, and remember that you are really still alive.