The view from my bedroom window isn’t very pleasing to the eye. That’s because the glass is so dirty. A “good” Palestinian woman spends a significant amount of time attacking the dust and dirt that permeates this place. She throws water on the floor and uses a squeegee to sweep it into drains built into the corner of each room for that purpose. I am a woman, but I am neither “good” nor Palestinian, so, if you visit my house, it is recommended to keep your shoes on.
The window in the living room is cleaner because we have an electric “treese” that we lower when it rains. (I’m sorry but I don’t know how to say “treese” in English and some people here call them “abujur.”) The treese is a slatted shade that comes down on the outside of windows. It is supposed to keep cold and rain out, but in our house rain comes not through the window, but right through the walls. It forms a not-so-small puddle on the floor where my youngest daughter works in her play laboratory.
Talking about humidity… these are the patches of mold that seep through the outer walls in the winter. We wipe them off and they come back after a few days.
Why am I telling you this? Well if you’re interested in my life in Palestine, then you need to know about the inconveniences of living in a place where buildings are made poorly (most likely to keep costs down, but the risk of demolition may also be a factor). We also have power outages. And you know you have a problem with water pressure when your 12-year old says, “Mom, can we go to a hotel to have a shower?”
These are problems that the Israeli settlements just ¼ mile from my house do not face. Their infrastructure is updated and maintained, though we both pay the same taxes to the same Jerusalem municipality.
Why do I stay? (My mother keeps asking me that question, too.)
I could move back to my native California or my adopted Massachusetts. But I would miss the storeowner across the street from my apartment who yells at children for dawdling too long as they decide what candy to buy. I would miss Saeeda’s face lighting up as she tells me how women stood up to their husbands in defense of their community projects. I would miss watching my children switch effortlessly from English to Arabic including all the mannerisms and behavior that go with each. I would miss my car, as old and dented and red as I am. And I would miss my mother-in-law. And she would miss me!
So the view from my window in Palestine—dirty, moldy, and inconvenient (not to mention unjust, inhuman and depressing)—is also one of amazing people living important lives. “The view from my window in Palestine” is my point of view. If you’re interested, I’m happy to share it with you.