I dropped my brother off at the airport today. Well, by dropped off, I mean met at the Metro, walked to the bus, sat with waiting for the bus, took the bus with, shepherded off the bus, found the check-in with, checked in (incorrectly), got the check-in corrected with (Virgin America is the classiest non-Middle Easter airline I have ever seen), ate dinner with, and walked to the security line.
All through this, the airport was strangely quiet. Lots of Muslim families meeting, eating, saying goodbye. Maybe there have always been this many veiled women around me, but I notice every one now. It’s comforting, like the smell of sandalwood smoke and the ocean. I once more controlled my impulse to say hi in Arabic.
After Dubai and Doha, Dulles feels small, quaint, a little tired. I loved seeing Saudi Airlines next to Ethiopian Airways, and I wished I was flying away somewhere new, but starting from a U.S. airport felt too safe. Where is the adventure in asking a hulking American TSA agent for directions, or overpaying for a boring burger? Where were the announcements in languages I will never know? There was just English and Spanish here.
But most of all, where are the crowds and crowds of people, shuffling old clothing patterns into newand shining airplanes? Fathers escorting daughters to multi-thousand-dollars shopping sprees in Europe and Filipino men crouching by the departure gates to hot, dry countries. Where were the few, fearless, veiled and unveiled single women forming a silent community, of which I used to be a part.
Dulles may be international for DC, but it’s not enough for me. I miss the Middle East.
“When our relatives are at home, we have to think of all their good points or it would be impossible to endure them.”–George Bernard Shaw