Malak Raihani.JPG

Malak Raihani
Casablanca, Morocco

I’ve definitely already hit about 10 mid life crises. Let me explain.

Palma de Mallorca — 2006. I was on summer vacation with my parents, who were married at the time, and my older brother. The entire vacation is a blur since it was so long ago — but there was this one raw moment that marked me. We were riding these beautiful mountain bikes around the island. My mother and I were going wild, paying little attention to the cars around, riding down massive staircases. I was only 10 years old, but I can still vividly picture us laughing on our rented bikes and our old grey helmets.

Growing up I lived in a great bubble of comfort in Morocco. My brother and I would get picked up from home, go to our small private school, go to our private tennis and piano lessons — all dressed up in our little Ralph Lauren polos. Dad would come home from work tired, mom would cook dinner, and we would sit around and talk about how great our days were.

At least that’s what it seemed like on the surface. In reality, my father was quite stable, and my mother, on the other hand, was suffering from depression. She was completely numb most of the time. But there were a few moments where she was completely alive. And in those 30 minutes biking around Palma De Mallorca — she was very much alive. That was one of the few moments I had seen her alive while growing up.

As I grew up, I began to associate happiness with adventure. My mother and I shared many more moments like this. For my 15th birthday she bought me a motorcycle jacket. For my 16th birthday she took me surfing. For my 19th birthday she got me a pass to skydiving. You could say my mom’s gifts had more to do with her than with me. I became her companion — tagging along as she went through her mid-life crises. Regardless, I loved each and every moment of the adventures.

And I think that’s what really makes me who I am today. My biggest fear is falling into a routine that numbs me to the beauty of life. That’s why I want to make sure I experience life in all its entirety. That’s why I left everything behind in Morocco to come to an unfamiliar city 15 hours away. That’s why I’m doing it all over again when I go to Hong Kong next semester. That’s why I’ll start my day grooving & dancing to funk music. That’s why I love striking up deep conversations with Uber drivers. That’s why I’ll take photos with complete strangers at a bar in Hollywood. Most importantly, that’s probably why I feel like I’ve already hit 10 mid-life crises.