Gate A-4

Gate A-4
Naomi Shihab Nye, 1952

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning
my flight had been delayed four hours, I heard an announcement:
“If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please
come to the gate immediately.”

Well—one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just
like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing. “Help,"
said the flight agent. “Talk to her. What is her problem? We
told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke haltingly.
“Shu-dow-a, Shu-bid-uck Habibti? Stani schway, Min fadlick, Shu-bit-
se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly
used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled
entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the
next day. I said, “No, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just later, who is
picking you up? Let’s call him.”

We called her son, I spoke with him in English. I told him I would
stay with his mother till we got on the plane and ride next to
her. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just
for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while
in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I
thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know
and let them chat with her? This all took up two hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling of her life, patting my knee,
answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool
cookies—little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and
nuts—from her bag—and was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the
lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same powdered
sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie.

And then the airline broke out free apple juice from huge coolers and two
little girls from our flight ran around serving it and they
were covered with powdered sugar, too. And I noticed my new best friend—
by now we were holding hands—had a potted plant poking out of her bag,
some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country tradi-
tion. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and I thought, This
is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that
gate—once the crying of confusion stopped—seemed apprehensive about
any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women, too.

This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.

moments

I saw this poem in a friend's page and it made me think. It made me think about the price of remaining silent. It made me think about being afraid when I go out on the street and how to reclaim the streets and my own life. It made me think that confronting fears is not an extraordinary thing but an everyday event and something that may help who you least expect... you.

moments :: mary oliver

There are moments that cry out to be fulfilled.
Like, telling someone you love them.
Or giving your money away, all of it.

Your heart is beating, isn’t it?
You’re not in chains, are you?

There is nothing more pathetic than caution
when headlong might save a life,
even, possibly, your own.

What’s life? What matters?

For some reason this Medium post anoyed me to no end.

I think the essence of what annoyed me so much is summed up in the fragment below

So I didn’t buy the ring. We didn’t get married. She moved out. We moved to different cities. I called her once a few years later but now she’s not even on Facebook and we haven’t talked since.

I forgot everything about her basically.

That sums up the 20s — EVERYTHING you think is important and meaningful has absolutely no bearing on your future life.

I started writing the angry reply below:


And none of those things that are not true anymore influenced you of today?

So the 5 or 6 non serious books didn’t motivate you to write the good books you’ve been writing “seriously” in your 40s?

If you hadn’t become so good at “bouncing back” in your 20s would you be able to throw yourself completely at things?

Nothing matters? I’ll definitely call bullshit on that one.

Life matters, what you do and don’t do matters. What you regret and what you wish you could still do matters

If you’re going to be that cynical why should we follow you? after all what you have to say doesn’t matter either


But then it made me think about why it bothered me so much

Maybe it's because it wasn't until last year that I reclaimed my 20s and what they represented and what they meant to me. All the changes, all the good and the bad things that have happened since have molded me into the person I am today and I wouldn't change my life in the last 22 years for anything in the world.

Or maybe it's the fact that if I accept the fact that nothing I did in my 20s and 30s has any meaning on who I am today then who I am today doesn't have any meaning either. Ever since I've remembered I've searched for those things that give meaning to my life and if I were to accept that nothing I've done and none of the people I've loved in the time I've been in the US matter then what's the point on living? (philosophical point... I am not suicidal)

My passion was theater and I didn’t realize how much I missed it until almost 20 full years went by and I got to engage with it again in a very different context. Something that made me curious about it again and made me want to experiment with theater in a different way and in a very different context and to really appreciate what it is that made me love theater in the first place.

Epilogue (for now): Airports and the transitory nature of life/travel

I’m sitting in Heathrow as I get ready to return to the US and move on to whatever comes next. I know, I know… I have 4 hours waiting time before I have to board the sardine can for the 10 hour flight home.

I’ve always loved airports. There is a sense of impermanence and transition. Everyone in here is leaving a place, is in a place and is going to a place. They are not of the place they left, they are not of the place they are in, and they are yet to become of the place they travel to.

There are thousand of ephemeral moments that happen once and are gone. The people, the smells, even the screaming brats are exclusive of the moment. We take refuge in the familiar or we go our of our way to take risks and push for the unknown.

And then we arrive and act as if nothing had changed. Or maybe everything did

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Credits:

Images:

London Gallery #3: Warhammer World

The 22 year old me and the 40 year old me agreed to go to Nottingham today to pay a visit to Warhammer World.

The 22 year old me really wanted to buy shit and go crazy but the 40 year old me needs to decide what it is that he'll do with the rest of the year before he can splurge the 1400+ pounds some of the models he wants cost.

The displays in the Dioramas and the painted models were just breath taking... My favorite diorama was chaos versus tau, space marines marching and, the most impressive one, the imperial guard marching 🙂

The 20 year old me was good and didn't spend all the money but still got some interesting things to read and work (assemble and, maybe, paint) when he gets home