Everyone was eager, I was exhausted.
Note: this was written on May 12, about the first night in Amman.
On the first night in Jordan, many of the people on the trip turned to me and asked where they should go. “We need to all go out!” many of them insisted. Last year, a similarly eager group went out on the first night in the hotel, and I stayed behind. I didn’t regret it then, and I still don’t; the trek across the Atlantic, and then some, is exhausting. There will be plenty more nights to enjoy, I thought last year, and I was right. It was the same situation. So, I agreed to a walk around our part of town, not more than 20 minutes from the hotel. Rainbow Street- the tourist trap in downtown Amman that would, I knew, become their favorite destination- was out of the question for me. After the previous day of travel, I was exhausted. So, a simple walk was what I thought we agreed upon.
15 minutes after dinner, we all reconvened in the lobby of the Imperial Palace Hotel. As we ventured up the sidewalk along the main road, the group seemed to have grown. By the time we were crossing the street, it seemed to me that at least 35 of our 47 stood around me. A few moments later, I heard someone utter Rainbow Street. It was my friend Joe, the other guy that came on this trip to Jordan last year. He was talking about jumping in cabs and venturing downtown. As soon as I heard that, I knew where I would be going: back to the hotel for a quiet night.
Once I crossed the street, I heard someone shout my name. I also heard one of the girls shouting “America!” I didn’t turned around, not even a look back over my shoulder. I turned the nearest corner and went for a stroll as I originally intended. The air felt cool, fresh on my face, and each breeze brought along with it the scent of jasmine flowers. When I close my eyes, I could swear that I’m at home, where I grew up with my grandfather’s jasmine plant in the basement. Or even in Kofinou, Cyprus, where my grandparents have a jasmine plant just outside the front door.
But then I open my eyes, and I can see I’m in not in New York or in Cyprus, but in Amman. A place, I thought, where I might one day have a home. Just then, at the moment the thought appeared in my mind, I saw a for sale sign. The house looked a bit out of my price range, but it was a funny coincidence. There was a jasmine vine in the front yard too. It all felt so familiar to me, and it felt so right to be standing there, on Al-Ri’asah Street, on a cool night in Amman.
Familiar, yet different. The street felt right under my feet. The hotel felt strangely like a home base in this city. It was like I never left, but things were different. Little things. There were photos now hanging at each landing of the stairwell, photos of various tourist attractions and historical sites in Jordan. The hallways had new plants scattered throughout. Things change, but they stay the same. The first floor landing was still used as a staging area, it seemed, with a ladder and mop plopped in front of the doorway. The lobby was still lit by a gorgeous, Christmas tree shaped golden chandelier that spanned all six floors of the hotel.
I made my way up to my hotel room. I’m ready for this adventure to really begin, and to meet my new host family in a few days’ time. Goodnight for now.