The bombing of the khan el khalili a few days ago quite likely went unnoticed by most people here in the US. Maybe everywhere that isn’t there. Everywhere that doesn’t share a border or a history with Egypt…doesn’t share a future. But it shook me. Reminded me how small the world is. How small I am within it.


Proximity. Not in distance but in time.


I was there just a few months ago, one of thousands of tourists strolling through stalls of imported crap pawned off as authentic wares, inhaling the aromas of spices and the grit of Cairo. It was where I bought loose leaf hibiscus tea and haggled for handmade silver earrings. And I was offered tea and was almost schemed into buying an unrequested tour. My time was probably no different than the French tourist who was killed. She was possibly retracing my steps, seeing what I saw, buying what I bought.


And now she is gone.


In 1990 my family left Killeen, TX  and the following year 24 were massacred. While most of America was only shocked and awed for the few days the Luby’s shooting headlined the news, in my mind I could trace the drive from our old house to that spot. I knew people who could have been there for lunch.


Even Katrina licked at my heels. Mocked me with the proximity of her destruction. My place in the city still warm from my recent retreat as she ripped through the gulf.


And it isn’t about me. I know that. But I wonder if a tinge of narcissism is necessary in empathy. The idea that I can see self in the sorrow of others. That I can feel the heat of flames burning others almost as if it were burning me…maybe because I’ve felt that same fire or known a familiar face that has.


Sometimes the seeming foreignness of some event – some face – makes it difficult for people to care. Too different too farfetched too other…instead of seeing self or family or even friends, those suffering are just…well…those suffering. But it is personal to me. The fear of running from something “chasing” me, the wonder of travel destroyed in an unforeseen instant.


And so the khan bombing sits with me. I am saddened by the loss of life, the fear trailing its wake.  

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