November 12th, 1990

November 12th, 1990

Cairo, Egypt

I wasn’t surprised to find only Carmel and Joe in the lobby this morning.

“Great turnout!” Carmel joked.

“It’s your fault for having such a raucous room party,” Joe groaned. “My head is throbbing.”

“Mine too,” I croaked. “I haven’t had that much fun at a room party in ages. You’re a bad influence, Carmel!”

“Years of fine tuning,” she chuckled.

We made our way through the balmy air, to the market, overflowing with people and a combination of pleasant and pungent odours, wafting from the makeshift stalls. The conversation flowed and turned to our personal lives, at which point Carmel asked if I had a boyfriend.

I nodded. “He lives in LA.”

“Ouch,” she said. “How difficult is that?”

“Very! I’m going for Thanksgiving though, so-”

“Ooooh, sounds serious,” Joe chimed. “I hope you have something dazzling to wear.”

“Funny you should mention that,” I said, going on to tell them about the dress I planned on wearing. The one I (read as; Lorna!)  hadn’t yet managed to find shoes to go with.

“Sounds like something you’d wear with a strappy sandal,” Joe suggested.

“What about a kitten heel?” I said, thinking of Lorna.

Shaking his head, with a look of mock horror, Joe shrieked, “Nooooooo!”

“What about a classic flat?” Carmel suggested. “Or maybe that’s my age talking.”
Joe said, “Do you mind if I ask your age?”

I was glad he did as I was also interested in knowing. Carmel is very youthful but I knew with two teenage daughters she must be well beyond my age bracket.

“I’m thirty-six,” she smiled. “Ancient.”

“You don’t look it,” Joe gushed. “Maybe those room parties aren’t so bad after all!”

We continued shopping and Joe found a pair of sandals he insisted were, “A must have, but only with jeans, not the blue dress.” The sandals are a little bejeweled for my taste so I expect mum will be nabbing them!

We continued meandering through the market and Joe shared with us that this is his first trip back after six-months of unpaid leave.

“Nice sabbatical,” Carmel commented. “Did you do anything special?”

Joe got a little quiet and for a second he looked like he was about to cry. “No,” he uttered. “I lost my partner of seven years, to AIDS.”

Carmel let out a sound that described exactly how I felt and there was an awkward pause that I certainly didn’t feel comfortable filling.

“It’s rampant,” Carmel said. “I can’t begin to tell you how many friends I’ve lost. I’m so sorry.”

“Me too,” Joe sniffed, his voice cracking. “Such a cruel way to go.”

“I’m so sorry,” I uttered, thinking of Florence and her younger brother’s recent diagnosis.


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