When I was a kid, my parents drove us up near Buffalo Bill’s grave to look down on the city lights. I believed that if I looked hard enough, I could see the steeple of the church in which my parents were married. I thought the church was a place made holy by my parents marriage.
Here too, I am uncertain of sacredity. From up here, I can see the Grand Mosque and five or six small ones. I can watch the oil being burned off nearby. I forget that the Kuwait I live in and the Kuwait I expected meet in the middle of the street behind me. Sometimes, I am both the signifier and the signified. My body parts men; it sends me to the fronts of lines and gives me access to the women who surround me. My colleague’s words stay with me: You must remember that the women are always separate. Except here in the Western part of the city, I want say. But she is right, it is the former and not the latter that I must remember. It’s a lesson learned hard and well in the West.
My uncovered head and my trouser suits give me no more freedom here than I had a month ago in the US. But femaleness, femaleness alone, allows me access to the private spaces, to unhindered words, to the intelligence of and familiarity of the women I now live among.
That alone must be sacred.