For several weeks now, I’ve been living with a Moroccan family again. Their names are, Kh*, who is a great man and friend, A*, his wife, and M*, their daughter. They asked, and I took them in, free of rent, free of any charge. Before this, my house of six rooms was mostly empty and lacking warmth. I never furnished the home, and to this day, still am sleeping in my sleeping bag. Now, I have a cooking partner, constant conversation, and help with the household chores. Now, I have daily access to the town’s tech guru, English teacher, and community leader. Now, I have little girls visiting, dropping off wild flowers. What a deal! They’re staying for a few months.
These girls that visit are awesome, playing with M* when she’s fussy, crouching with us as we crack kilo after kilo of almonds. If I grab a broom, one grabs a dustpan, and the other turns on some music. When other children knock on my door for a toothbrush lesson (and get a toothbrush as a reward), they deliver my lesson with clarity and added anecdotes. And they do this without being asked.
The boys that visit, like A*’s brothers (ages 16 and 21) don’t do jack squat! Stay an unannounced night? Fine, but when asked to buy some milk for the extra portions of dinner, don’t ask for my money! Now constantly faced with the gender roles, I’m starting to miss America. I’ve been trying to get Kh* into the kitchen more, and A* outside, beyond the porch.
A*’s story: She completed the highest form of education available in her village, elementary school. Unemployed and bored of working at home for a year, she picked up a household servant gig in Casablanca. From ages 12 to 17, she was cooking, cleaning, teaching, and playing with the family’s two kids as the Engineer dad and Judge mom worked. Casablanca introduced A* to supermarkets, McDonald’s, and French cuisine. She then married Kh*, a year before the legal age (but who enforces the law here anyway?), and returned to make a home of a neighboring village, Kh*’s and my village. Now, she cares for their 15-month-old daughter and we occasionally whip up a classic béchamel and Béarnaise. She celebrated her 20th birthday last March. A* has earned my respect. She’ll inherit everything that I’m leaving behind. The family that she worked for enjoyed her stay so much, that they are hosting her little sister in Casablanca as she continues her studies.