Zia Hassan

Youll Thank Us Later

Middle School is when everything your parents say makes no sense to you, when your friends become enemies and enemies become friends at the drop of a hat, and you have to start thinking, at least a little bit, about growing from a child to an adult. You also have to remember a locker code, or at least I did when I was a teenager.

I was lucky enough to spend some of these formative years in Cairo, Egypt. It was an interesting time, because I was going through puberty quicker and sooner than almost everyone else. I had full facial hair by age 13, which made me a freak show and a hero all at the same time. It’s awkward to live your pre-teen years looking and acting more like a teen teen.

Living in Egypt, my parents rarely signed me up for anything against my will. Sure, when I was younger there was a slew of swimming lessons, and soccer practice, and piano, and summer camp. But in Middle School they laid off me a bit, and let me figure out what to do with my time.

But one night they sat me down and told me they had arranged for horseback riding lessons every Sunday afternoon in Giza for about 4-5 months.

I fought against this vehemently. One of the things that really irked me as a middle schooler was being forced to do anything, let alone something that would take up my precious Sunday evening which was usually reserved for listening to music and playing video games.

But they made me. They said I’d thank them later.

And so our driver (it was common to have one living in Egypt as an expat) took my sister, me, and a couple friends to Giza, listening to a Third Eye Blind tape along the way. I grumbled the entire way.

What business did my parents have in telling me what to do? And what did they know about what I’d like or wouldn’t like? I was nearly an adult now, after all. I know what I like. And it’s not riding on a horse on a Sunday evening.

Annoyed, I got on my horse and after a basic orientation, and we took off with a guide into the desert. It was 5pm or so, which meant that as we rode, the sun began to set.

If you’ve never witnessed the sunset in the desert, the only word I can use to describe it is spectacular. With a wide open area and no other structures than pyramids to block the sunset, it felt like riding toward a giant dripping ball of hot lava slowly cascading down below the horizon, leaving in its wake a picture-perfect purple, red, and black night sky. The Egypt sun was a sun that wanted you to know it was there. That left behind evidence of its majesty.

And me, in my 13 year old stubborn stupor, let that sunset slowly creep into my heart and make a home there. I wasn’t about to admit to anyone that I witnessed pure beauty, despite the fact that they were all there with me.

“You’ll thank us later,” my parents said. How long until later, I wondered? I already felt thankfulness expanding inside of me like what water does when it drips into a sponge. But when exactly would I be have the courage to tell them that they were right?

On the drive home, everyone was exhausted. We all fell asleep in the car, and the last thing I remember thinking, as my face smooshed against the car window, was how beautiful the stars looked from the backseat.