Remember middle school slumber parties? Eating your body weight in junk food, weighing the pros and cons of various crushes and watching the Backstreet Boys perform on the Disney channel. I loved the conversations which stretched into the dawn and the feeling of love and acceptance when you woke up surrounded by your best friends. Truthfully, I've had sleepovers well into 20's and don't plan on giving them up anytime soon. Complications arise when your friends are married, children are running around, or everyone has to work in the morning, but I still cherish every opportunity to look back in time.
My host father frequently travels to Fes for exams relating to his master's degree. He works full time, but this eight hour commute is necessary if he wants to advance his teaching career. While he is gone, my host mother either has family visit or friends stay over to keep her company. On the most recent occurrence, the host grandma returned home unexpectedly to deal with her cow kicking its' baby in the head. Yes, you read that correctly. Apparently only my host grandmother can "get through" to this cow so it doesn't kill its' newborn kid. As a result, I was invited to spend the night with my host family, something I haven't experienced since my arrival in Tazerine. While I typically cherish my evenings at home, this seemed like a great opportunity to bond with my family after extensive traveling over the past few months.
I returned home mid-afternoon to gather my supplies and was reluctantly escorted by my host mother's friend (who would also be staying over with the family). Despite my countless attempts to free myself of her company, she insisted. I suspect she was eager to see how the American girl lives and she took advantage of her opportunity. During this brief visit into my home, she took the time to rearrange my entire bathroom and medical supply area as well as give me a lecture about how to properly "hide" my things. The argument of this being "my space" and not for the pleasure of others was lost on her.
The evening consisted of several rounds of dinner, including waking up the kids to eat the final 11 pm meal. I don't think I will ever understand why Moroccans wait until everyone is exhausted to eat the last bowl of spaghetti for the night, but as they like. As we watched the final Turkish soap opera of the evening, I snuck away to brush my teeth; since I've never seen a Moroccan actually do this, I always end up doing the deed in secret. I quietly settled onto my small mattress and dosed off to the sounds of dubbed television.
The next morning, I woke early and took in my surroundings. Most Moroccan families don't have bedrooms, so everyone sleeps in the same living room. My host mother and her friend were sleeping directly next to me while the kids were cuddled on the other side of the room. I was fatigued after nearly 24 hours of intense language immersion, but calmed by my family.
During my first few months in Morocco, I did everything I could to limit the amount of time I spent in Moroccans' homes. This was not because I didn't enjoy their company, instead it was due to feeling linguistically exhausted and culturally confused. My sleepover may have been void of braiding each other's hair and talking about boys, but I found a similar feeling of love and acceptance from staying with my Moroccan family. I may not visit as often as they like, eat the meat they put in front of me or cover my head, but I am not treated like an outsider. Already looking forward to my next slumber party.