Morning Coffee in Ramallah

Finally home to Ramallah today to find my plants—dried, limp, purple flowers browned. My home dusty and unlived in, dishes waiting in the sink. Since last week, the strong wind from the valley swept the earth that I had used to cover the little box grave for my dog, Nutmeg. I could see the box now, partially uncovered under the olive tree, where I had hastily buried him, after he had cried and I had paced my apartment, not knowing how to help, what to do, unable to leave, under curfew. Nutmeg died just as the curfew lifted, just as I was counting the minutes till I could leave my house and bring him to the vet.

And I’m packing again, in haste, to leave Ramallah before the curfew sets in. Since I have to go to Lebanon in a few days, I can’t chance not being able to get out, hostage to the whims of 18-20-year olds with guns thrashing around in tanks. But first- time for a coffee with a friend (‘let’s pretend things are normal’) - but when i call her, she says she doesn’t know when exactly she can meet- soldiers are around her house, and they might come in to search her place. We agree to meet regardless in an hour, insh’allah.

Over coffee a few of us discuss what we can do to once the ‘best case scenario’/rumour comes in place- the curfew maybe being lifted between 7am- 7pm. No one even discusses the possibility that the Israeli Army might leave-

——We’ll just shift our hours around. We can do it, we just have to plan more and make an effort. Can you work from home? Me too. So, do things during the day, see people during the day, and work at night. I think I work better at night anyway. Yeah, me too. You know, we’ll make more of an effort to see people, because we will need to see people. A good opportunity to spend time with friends. Actually, in a way it will be good to spend more time reading. I really need to write more. We can have breakfasts on my balcony! And we’ll just have to go to the gym in the mornings. I think that under the circumstances having flexible work hours will be ok with my office. Well, I will just tell my office that I am working different hours now. At least I will be working. And? When we want to invite friends for dinner we will just have to have sleep-over parties too!——

We are all laughing now, as if planning a vacation. The sun is shining. But the buoyancy quickly fades. Indefinite curfews. Months of being unable to leave the house when you want to, if you need to. If you need to finish a project at work, if you run out of laban or are missing a spice for a recipe. If you would like to go for a walk in the evening, or your child is ill and you have to debate whether or not to call an ambulance, or if it is even safe to do so. Spontaneity is elusive, and we’ll cling to small things like going for coffee in the middle of the day to try and feel as though we have some control over something in our lives. Quite simply, this is just going to be really hard.

And now it is 1pm, so we all quickly get up to leave. My friends go to run errands so they have enough supplies until they are next allowed out, and I take a shared taxi to Qalandia checkpoint.