|Shaka - bracelets made out of shells, here shown in different stages of the cutting and carving process.|
Currently, I’m in transit. I’m headed to New York to speak at the Muslim Protagonist conference at Columbia University. Just three weeks ago, I was in Dhaka living an entirely separate life. And for the interim it’s felt as if all of that melted away as soon as I left the landing strip.
Flying that long of a distance is really strange – your time perception gets messed up no matter how regularly they dim the lights and project a starscape up on the overhead bins. When I hit the airport in Dubai, the past 8 months already felt like an elaborate dream. And Dubai airport is not the place you go to get a grip on reality. I forced myself to sleep for the majority of the flight time – my special skill – but there was a painful few hours at the end of it where I couldn’t go into vampire mode. I sat there trying to imagine what going back to my childhood home would feel like after all these months (and even years) of being away.
I think the only thing that taught me is that it’s impossible to envision how you will feel in the future. I could easily picture the big kitchen island, but I couldn’t know how surreal it would feel to be there without my dad. How frustrated I would get when I didn’t know how to change the light fixtures; how many ghosts would creak up and down the hallways, making it impossible for me to go downstairs. The friends who I grew up with remarked on it instantly when they visited – the creeping emptiness now that my dad (and the cat) have moved south.
But that wasn’t apparent at first. When I landed at Seatac, it was just as if I had come home for another brief vacation. I still haven’t fully accepted that I will be living in Seattle full-time after coming back from NYC. I have barely processed how fast things have moved. In the past two weeks, I’ve accepted 2 part-time jobs, submitted several pieces, and hosted a writing workshop at Hugo House on writing complex characters of color. All while getting through the physical effects of too-rapidly moving through time and space.
I'm in transit, but looking forward to putting down roots. I'm here, but I don't yet own it. Ringing in my ears is the sound of the Homeland Security agent's voice as I entered the country: “Welcome home.”