Had I left Cairo on Thursday instead of Sunday, I'd have left triumphantly. I'd come to this city reluctantly, apprehensively--Cairo! It was low—very low—on my list of places I wished to live.
But I'd made a semi-life here quickly. Meeting Dana (friend of a childhood friend's brother) for coffee on Saturdays, going to parties and poker with Craig (I met him in New York at a party in 2002), and roaming the streets of Zamalek or seeing movies with my 30-year-old colleague (longtime readers will know him as the 29-year-old Omani designer I would tease every day last year in Kuwait). The office had worked out so far, and the apartment really did turn out to be on one of the best blocks it could have been on.
I wanted to stay. But I had a ticket home and an apartment waiting for me.
I saved the last night for my young colleague, who then proceeded to vanish. He'd done that last year too, when I'd left Kuwait. But he'd surprised me later that night by showing up with a good-bye gift.
But this time, he didn't even return my calls or texts. I thought over the last few days. What I'd said, how I'd said it. Had I gone overboard in teasing him? Had I said something untoward, been a creepy older woman? Was I going to get my company sued for sexual harassment? And what would I do with the chocolate Easter bunny I'd bought him? (I doubted anyone had ever bought him a chocolate Easter bunny before, Easter not being a big deal in Kuwait or Oman.)
And so I sat wondering, checking my phone for answers (there were none), my face slightly red that Hot Landlord sat right outside the coffee shop, smoking, and aware that I was supposed to be meeting someone. Maybe Hot Landlord would be gone when I next looked up. Or maybe he'd be less hot somehow, or less my age, or maybe he'd forget how to speak English, and I'd be less embarrassed.
Finally, I skulked by the landlord, sheepishly collected my bags from the doorman, and saw myself off to the airport. Leaving Cairo as anonymously as I'd entered it. In with a whimper, out with the same.
My phone buzzed on the way to the airport. "I'm so sorry! I overslept after those two days of working on that 3-D project!"
I bit the head off the chocolate bunny. I'd see Oman's Brightest next time. Who knows where we'll be sent to in 2008? But for now, next stop: Barcelona.