Sex and the Chester: To Break a Back

By Alyssa Velazquez
Elm Columnist

A fire allowed to burn will engulf the object to which it is attached. Its kaleidoscope of flames will caress the aim of its desire, an action that could be mistaken for merely a fierce hug. It is only when the fire’s aim begins to lag in its tight embrace that its ghastly purpose becomes apparent. Windows fall, walls enfold, and the steel spine of the upstanding entity is now bowing in deep reverence to its conqueror. Yet at what point did the material being subjected to the fire accept its defeat? When did the flames become too much? When enough is enough in love how does anyone know?

I started this article with a metaphor of fire because I have experienced this element throughout this past week. As Americans, the closest thing we tend to come to, in terms of revolution, is confined to the assigned reading of the American Revolution in our history textbooks. Never did I imagine myself cast in the future role as a confined revolutionary party. When I applied to study abroad in Egypt for the spring semester of my junior year I had no idea that I would be enlisting to be one of many American citizens to witness the Egyptian revolution. Night and day through the walls of my Zamalek dorm protestor’s calls ride the winds, teargas wafts through the streets, and smoke obscures the air all over Cairo. Whatever can be burned is utilized for the cause: material sacrifices for the betterment of humanity.

As of today, it is day four in the Egyptian revolution. Its people are relentlessly protesting for human rights that they have been deprived of. Their war cry is a call for change. As I walked through downtown Egypt, I picked up the newspaper and saw an eruption of black helmets and plastic shields.

Although I find myself in a safe house with no threat of direct attack I can’t help but wonder…when will enough be enough for the government to listen? When an individual is in any declining situation, when is the enough moment apparent? In relationships, what breaks the relationship’s back? How can any two people decide, let alone one, when enough is enough?

I used to think that the “enough” points in any relationship were universal, that for many there were obvious no-nos. From observations of family members and friends, that break points are just as gray as the smoke I see from the terrace of our dorm building. A friend, despite previous affairs, continues to stand by their significant other, or the female that stays in an abusive relationship. The couple whose love has deteriorated with age, and even those selective friends that would break up with an individual for disagreeing with them in a debate. All of them have different reasons for continuing or terminating a relationship yet when was it enough?
As I walk through the streets of Zamalek, I have begun to feel the unsettling signs of indifference to my surroundings in my disposition. Where I was once frightened by the sound of rubber bullets, my body has now subsided from surprise shudders and my mind is ambivalent to the constant barrage of uprisings. My throat no longer stings from the teargas and the slideshow of images on daytime television have begun to resemble one another exempt from any distinct differences.

After grabbing the paper I sit within the courtyard of our dorm. In my peripheral vision I can see that the water hose across our main hall no longer carries its wares to my fellow collegians. Continual indifference towards our current political position has sent many of us looking to airport schedules and the rest feeling either frustrated or confined. Having had little over a week to forge a relationship with Egypt I cannot really claim that our relationship was long standing. We had our ups and downs and from my current vantage point it appears that our current affection towards one another is out of obligation rather than commitment. Perhaps, in any relationship, the “enough” moment is when an individual becomes indifferent to the relationship for it’s our emotions that forge our connection.

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