Where in the World Is...?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

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.”