Jordanian wedding, part two: the arrival

It’s lunchtime, and you’re eating stuffed grape leaves and stuffed zucchini. You and two women spent hours making this yesterday; you thought it was for the wedding, but apparently it’s just for your family. Ok, whatever. Now you had better get dressed, because we have to go to the wedding! Put on your best. No, not what you wore yesterday. That’s boring. Here, wear your thin, flat-chested, 16-year-old host sister’s shirt. No matter that you’re a busty, bodacious babe. It’ll fit. Oh, look, it’s loose on her. All is well. Now, pants. No, not your work slacks. Here, wear your host mom’s jeans. No matter that she’s 4 sizes bigger than you are. We can find a belt. Yeah, it’s cheap and keeps loosening up until the pants fall back off, but you only have to wear it for a few hours. Don’t forget to roll the cuffs up, too; your host mom is taller than you are. Did you do you hair? No, do the other hairstyle. What, you don’t want white powder all over your face? It’s ok, you’re white enough naturally to pass as beautiful. You try to tell them that white does not equal beautiful and that you love the caramel tones of their skin, but they just laugh. “Black,” they say, “we’re so black.” They’re not, but you don’t have the words to explain.

There is a makeup brush in your face now, and your eyelids are suddenly fuschia. Ok, in the car, let’s go. “All of us?” “Of course!” Nine people clamber into the five-seater, and the real adventure begins.

You join the long line of wedding-goers on their drive into the city. Everyone is honking and has their flashers on; how do you know that that car on the side of the road, with its flashers on, isn’t part of your group? “Oh, they’re not, don’t worry.” Ok, sure. Little brother is standing on the seat of the car. He is rolling down the window. Now he has swung all of himself out the window, just one leg precariously hugging the door to keep him sitting on the edge. Now other brother is doing the same. The baby is passed to the front seat. You can feel a seatbelt under your leg, but nobody’s bothered to use one so you don’t, either. In your head you hear Dad singing, “buckle up for safety, buckle up!” But you’re powerless to heed the advice. You suddenly come to the chilling realization that all 10 or so cars in your party are on the wrong side of the divider, and there’s a truck heading straight towards you. But it’s veering off into the dirt, so it’s fine, no worries. Your host dad speeds up and comes up next to another car to yell jokes at one another. You have no idea what they’re saying, so you look out the window. There’s a sign, and you read it: “Syria, 14 kilometers.” Oh, ok, so that’s where you are. But you’re heading southeast, not north to Syria. You’re heading into town. Another sign points towards Amman and the Iraqi border.

The car speeds up past the other again as you cut off multiple drivers on the correct side of the road. You realize two of the kids are missing from the car. Had they been there before? “Where?” Your family stares blankly before saying, “bus, bus.” Ok, they’re taking the bus, sure, why not? A couple more kids could’ve fit in here, but whatever.

Another truck is barreling towards you, but as they veer off into the dirt, your car swerves to the right and into the mayhem of the parking lot. You get out of the car and your host aunt grabs your hand, pulling you through the mass of men and upstairs to the women’s room.


One Response

  1. What a trip! It’s a wonder you all survived the traffic, but I guess your host father has figured out how to drive on the wrong side of the road! AND your brothers hanging out the window that way????? I’ll eagerly await the next installment to see where you are going: Is it Syria, Amman or Iraq?

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