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Cairo Girl

Dreamed 2008/2/13 by Wayan


Our microwave just fried, so I head for Tanforan Mall near San Francisco's airport. It's half-empty--businesses failing. The salespeople have fake, desperate smiles pasted on. Ugh.

An hour later I go home with a box and a headache. Damn. Feels like a relapse of my mystery infection. But the timing's no mystery--I HATE shopping. And those desperate salespeople... like being mobbed by very polite beggars. Stress.

Plus I'm grieving over breaking up with Cheryl, and uncertainty about my fading long-distance relationship with Emily. Some of my sadness is about losing them as friends and lovers, but some is fear I'll forget the new doors they opened. Both drew me out socially and sexually; I felt more comfortable in my body, even planned for the future more. Believed in love. They helped, and I owe them--but now that they showed me how, can't I walk through those doors on my own?

So just before bed, I ask my dreams: "Have I done all I could? Must I let them both go at last? If so, how to move on?"


A purple-haired girl on the angry streets of pre-Uprising Cairo? Sketch of a dream by Wayan. Click to enlarge.
I'm in Cairo. How did I get here? Hot, smoggy, grim. Streets full of angry-looking people.

A delicate, rather sad-looking girl leads me to a cafe. She's not Egyptian--Euro or American? Looks part hippie part goth. Long hair, once purple, the dye now fading back to black. Stands out here. I bet she gets hassled.

"Have you been to Egypt before?" she asks.

"Yeah, I was here in my teens; three weeks with my parents dragging us to all the tourist sites. But live here, like you? I don't think I can; it's so crowded, and I pick up people's energy. So much anger now. Some of it focused on me as a foreigner, but a lot of it just floating. And the sex-segregation! Most of my friends are women; I don't think I could live among men."

By the way she eyes local women, I think she's bi. She can handle the sex-segregation just fine! And if she wants to talk with men, she can always play foreigner. So far. But Cairo's getting more reactionary and xenophobic. Some men really glare at her: slut! unbeliever! And she has thin skin: that delicate aura can't take brutality, and this country's on the verge of violence. I worry for her.

Well, and I'm strongly attracted to her. Of course I'm on the rebound, after Cheryl. And what about Emily? We agreed it was OK to date others while we're a continent apart, but did we really mean it?

The cafe is busy, loud. Some of the noise isn't from inside it, but coming through the wall. A loud band. I hear electric bass and several horns. Not at all Arabic; Afro-pop with jazz and funk tinges.

We finish. Ready to leave. She pauses to tell the manager or head waitress, "The cook here is so good. Why do you just serve chut?" I may have the word wrong--an ugly one-syllable word for basic worker's fare. Girl's hand. Her gold nails extend into strange feathery structures rather like moth antennae. Sketch of a dream by Wayan. Click to enlarge

The waitress says "Do you mean we should serve ____?" Something like burritos. More variety than chut, but still quite limited.

"No" says my friend. "I meant a full menu of dishes your cook likes. Or even invented." The waitress looks wary; clearly thinks it's over-ambitious. Maybe she's right. The place is full now. But my friend knows that. She keeps looking at the waitress until she says "I'll pass on your suggestion."

"That's all I want" she says. "I know you can't change things based on one customer. But you have real potential here." She works for long-haul change.

And off we go through the Cairo streets. She's looking sadder and more fragile than ever. Starts holding my hand, then sniffling, then crying, leaning on me. All I can say is, "What's wrong? Tell me, tell me..." And hold her. I kiss her hand.

She has such weird nails. Didn't really notice before. Not just purple and black Goth jobs, but they're a strange shape too: thicker, stronger, more like wolf claws. Not human. But with odd feathery extensions. Feelers of chitin? Is she part moth?

Slowly walk to her apartment. Inside, we kiss. I get a huge erection. She feels it and unzips my pants. Slowly undress... She gets out a condom--a big, strange, loose condom, a bit awkward to put on, but it works. She senses I'm more feline than human inside, I guess, because she stretches like a cat and looks over her shoulder, mutely begging. I mount her like a lion and slowly push inside her. We start making love. Girl with claws and moth-antennae on a bed; sketch of a dream by Wayan. Click to enlarge

For me this is the exotic part. No weird interspecies problems crop up! Cat-boy and moth-goth-girl? You'd expect some bizarre issues. Nothing. No surreal dream-interruptions either. Despite all the tensions in her city and in our lives, our hearts and bodies let their barriers down and happiness fills the room.


As we're still tangled and nibbling and rocking, I gradually wake. I haven't come yet, but that doesn't seem nearly as important as the complete lack of pain or stress--the proof of healing.

And I used to be so shy and nervous in bed! Forces me to see what a debt I owe Cheryl and Emily: their different approaches really have healed very deep, very old emotional and sexual scars.

Though I do wake into illness. Headache and low fever--I have a recurring infection. Still, it used to give me worse pain and regular nightmares around dawn--feverdreams.

Instead, despite the tension in Cairo's streets, I got a sexy encounter with a girl I liked--well, a jinni I guess, a kooky jinni, but nice.

And my dreams addressed my question. Yes. I've changed. Healed. No going back.

Not that I want to!


2015 NOTE

I dreamed this in 2008, before the Uprising. But the dream already sensed (maybe via my friend Joe's reports) the rising anger in Cairo. A fit setting for a feverdream, but not for a happy, sexy non-nightmare! The personal message is clear--even love affairs that fall apart can teach you, leave you stronger and happier. But the setting adds a public, social message: that the cosmopolitanism that once was Egypt's can and will be regained, even surpassed--in the long run.

It won't be chut forever.

Thumbnail sketch of purple-haired girl on the angry streets of pre-Uprising Cairo

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