General

It’s Love, Actually

The international arrivals door is where magic happens daily throughout the world. Mothers greet fathers. Children return home. Refugees and asylum seekers are embraced by a new society. Soldiers return from war. Visitors are welcomed to a new land. Opportunities for meaningful exchange begin. Lovers reunite. It is one of my favorite places, wherever I am in the world.

Yesterday, the international arrivals door at DFW Airport Terminal D was a scene of a different sort. Families waited to greet their loved ones placed in limbo by the swift and callous winds of change. A student from SMU waited, as his Syrian parents were held unable to join him. A 40-ish woman, US green card holder from Iran was detained 8 hours before she could greet her husband who was a US citizen. Another Syrian man on a valid visa coming to see his sons studying at SMU was forced to sign a form he didn’t understand, under threat of arrest.

Then something miraculous happened…people gathered in solidarity with these families to scream into the wind against the rabid offspring of fear. The sound was deafening and relentless, hundreds turned into thousands. Hours of chants, “USA”, “SILENCE IS VIOLENCE”, “NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE”, an Episcopalian priest led the crowd in Christian hymns and we sang together in Arabic, led by our Muslim brothers and sisters.

As the frosted white door between customs and the USA remained closed and the SWAT teams stood at attention, we heard reports that there were custom officials in tears on the other side. Unable to get answers from the DHS or the White House. Our mayor arrived to state his opposition to these executive actions and our U.S. House members and Dallas County judges were in the crowd, standing alongside us as we screamed for justice.

The crowd embraced when the stay was ordered and passed around pizza, fruit and well wishes. It was peaceful, respectful and powerful. The police had the slightest of smile and nodded their heads in our direction. When it was time for prayer, a Christian woman took the sign of a nearby Muslim woman and said, “you go pray, I will stay.”

I went to the international arrivals door at DFW Airport yesterday to speak to the families, learn their stories and link them to legal advocates, if needed. Turns out, many of my American brothers and sisters had the same idea. What I saw was exactly what makes America great.

It’s love, actually.

 

Jan 28, 2017

DFW Airport, Texas

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Travel Essays

Suggestion Box

 

This shot was captured in an abandoned train station in Moshi, Tanzania. A weathered wooden box, which once collected anonymous input now swings uselessly from a rusty anchor. A small, thought-provoking relic of a bygone colonial era. When I saw it, I imagined the human faces of foreign powers who descended one-by-one in please take a number fashion upon this corner of the world. Continue reading

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Short Stories

@ 1st Ave and E 50th St

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I am having a party, do you want to come? Before you commit, let me tell you a little more about it.

First, you should know that you can’t wear anything to this party, especially not some damn party dress. Naked will be the only attire for this get together. Unless of course you want to bring an oversized blow up bouffant. This is the only accessory I will consider.

This party will be on a busy street corner not far from the East River. To be more specific, the location will be at the corner of 1st Ave and E 50th St.

There will be grizzly bears. However, they will be seemingly polite, smiling grizzly bears with Southern sensibilities and razor sharp claws. I plan to completely ignore them, but you can do what you want. Also, there may be a tigress, but I am still checking. Oh, and the baby ninja who follows me everywhere will make a brief appearance before bedtime.

There may or may not be ukulele music, but definitely no limbo because I hate limbo. There will likely be dancing lizards.

We will eat takeout Chinese straight from the container.

Without question I’ll be serving cocktails. I am debating between Sex on the Beach or dirty martinis. Whichever it ends up being, we will drink them out of mason jars and you must refer to them as “dranks”.

By all means there will be cake, actually, a rather special cake. What do I mean by special? Well, there will be no pot in the cake if that’s what you are thinking, although that is not a bad idea. This is an idealist cake. Some will see the cake and think of unicorns and rainbows, but they will miss the point entirely. That’s all I will say about it, you’ll just have to try it to see how it tastes to you.

I also don’t see any reason why this party should ever end. You can come and go as you please, but don’t forget to come naked otherwise I’ll send your happy ass home.

What’s the occasion?

It’s a birthday party, but it’s not my birthday. So, why a birthday party? Because, right now and in this very moment I am living each and every day like it’s my birthday. Truthfully, I had forgotten how it felt to live like this.

How did I get here? By simply rewinding the tape, watching it in slow motion and writing down what I saw. Easy, right? Hell no.

When I replayed the tape, I saw that I was carrying around the baggage of a bad decision. Worse yet, this decision had become a life. One I was well invested within but was not authentically mine. It was an adopted dream – and a bad dream at that. Adopted, I discovered, because I am really good at taking on the obligations of others. Perhaps it saves me the trouble of having to live by my own tune.

I could have just lived in that dream; it would have been a hell of a lot easier. Easier maybe, but easy comes complete with a daily bottle of Chardonnay habit, or worse. I took the easy way once and that’s precisely how I got into this fucking mess. No I couldn’t do that again, no matter how much it hurt.

You see, when you don’t live as yourself, but as the one you think others want or need you to be, life becomes like a pressure cooker. If you are lucky, that bitch will eventually blow. It may burn like hell, but you will be forced to right the great wrong you did to yourself because the truth will be splattered all over the place. You’ll be left standing stark naked licking the truth off your upper lip. Or perhaps you aren’t so lucky and you find a comfortable numb that keeps the pressure at a constant state, not increasing or decreasing just a constant hum. I have seen how that works out and I want no part of it.

So I broke down my invested life, dismantled it piece by painstaking piece. As I disassembled, I realized that I had been treating my own hopes and dreams as one giant suggestion box – please leave a comment if you are so inclined. Turns out, there is an “inclined” line around the block.

Now I am back where I started, only much smarter and more determined than ever. Walking in my right shoes again and everyday feels like my birthday.

Why is this party on a street corner on the east side of Manhattan?

Because that spot is my ground zero, literally in more ways than I could mention. I am hosting this party right back where I was the last time I felt this feeling. Just before it all went a little awry. When I last stood here, I knew what I needed to do and was going for it. Just moments before I began taking suggestions.

So, if you are up for what I have described, join me @ 1st Ave and E 50th St. I’ve been hanging out dancing with my resentment for far too long now and I need some new dance partners.

Why the weird grizzly bears? Can’t tell you, that’s my little secret.

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