My life has undergone a radical transformation since the last time I posted here. I left Egypt, my home for the past seven years, flew back to Georgetown, Texas, and then moved in with my family. All this in an attempt to restart my life in the United States.
For a bit more than a month, I had to live apart from Azza, my Egyptian wife, while she awaited her green card interview with a bureaucrat in the American embassy in downtown Cairo. Federal law requires the authorities to do a face-to-face chat with potential new immigrants to see if they harbor any criminal aspirations or political ill will toward the land about to accept them into its fold. Azza did her interview with her usual aplomb and charmed the person she spoke with, proving, in the process, that America had nothing to fear if she packed her bags and moved there. (Her gift of gab is only surpassed by her skills in the kitchen.) As a result, the American government made her the proud owner of a permanent resident visa.
Azza and I now share a guest bedroom in Georgetown, and I’m busily looking for work. When I’m not sending out résumés and pounding the proverbial pavement, my wife and I spend our days going to thrift shops and rummaging around at garage and estate sales. The buys we’ve been making are meant to supplement the shipment we having coming in from overseas. Said container of personal items consists of forty-two boxes, some of them nearly the size of an old-fashioned Volkswagen Bug.
This brings me to the subject of this blog. This past weekend we drove to an estate sale located in a part of Georgetown I was totally unfamiliar with. We parked, walked up to the front door, and entered, only to find a domicile full of people pawing over the contents of the place. Azza and I separated and I headed toward one of the back bedrooms which was mostly filled with all sorts of Christmas stuff—Santa Clauses, tree ornaments, and the like, all piled up on card tables. I moved deeper into the room and found myself standing in front of a closet with its door open. I looked into it, and my eyes were immediately drawn toward a stuffed animal—a “plush” as collectors and pickers like to say—in the shape of Snoopy of Charlie Brown fame.
The Snoopy was completely covered with writing. As I looked closer, I could see that the toy had been autographed by dozens of people. I was shocked to see names I remembered from my elementary school days—I grew up in Georgetown before moving off to college and then farther afield. I then noticed, to my shocked amazement, my own name amongst the others and nearly had an out-of-body experience as soon as I made the discovery.
I took the plush in hand and carried it to the woman sitting at the cash register located near the front door. “Who lived in this house?” I asked her.
“The Simmons family, long-time residents of Georgetown,” she told me.
“Wow!” I said, and then I showed her Snoopy and my own signature on the dog’s head.
When I was in fifth or sixth grade, a classmate named Barry Simmons was burned in a house fire. His injuries were horrific, and he missed months of school while he was recovering. During his absence, our class bought a stuffed animal—the Snoopy I found and purchased at the estate sale—signed it, and gave it to him as a way of showing that he was in our thoughts. So, for the price of two dollars, I now own a little piece of my boyhood history.
This blog is my latest telling of this story. Everyone who hears it finds it as unlikely as I do.
I’m not a superstitious sort, but I’m hoping that the finding of Snoopy is some kind of sign, one suggesting that Azza and I are about to begin a period of many wonderful occurrences and good fortune.