Stories and The Story

I’m originally from Central Asia.  Now I live half of the time in a European country, half of the time in another Asian country.   And I cannot go home. These were her answers to the questions, “Where are you from?  What do you do in that place?”  I had already exchanged these two questions with … Continue reading Stories and The Story

The Fourth Option

Zacky barked at every entrance during my first two and a half years of living in this house. I had thought he would get used to me, since I frequently came in and out of the front gate to get to my basement apartment, and spent hours with his owners upstairs.  Excitable and determined to guard … Continue reading The Fourth Option

Last Question

Sixty girls sat on the floor in front of me, wrapping up their conversations from snack break, nudging each other.  They were settling in for one final hour– for this semester– in the Young Leaders program. They will take three months off for summer.  But they know that before every significant break, and after every meaningful activity, comes one thing: a debriefing. Usually this means that we … Continue reading Last Question

Turning Back… and Around

He has two good friends here, this American living in the Middle East.  Both of them are named Abdullah. David left his home and family to work in this region for a specific timeframe: long enough to mess up his plans for life, but not long enough to master the local tongue.  Early on, he met … Continue reading Turning Back… and Around

Captured

Without a sign of problems, my phone captured moments for me.  Quickly shot photographs of students, friends, meals together, celebrations in the community– if I did not want something to slip through my fingers, I saved it on a memory card. Until the day it happened. During Young Leaders’ last class of the semester, the camera application that had been opened to record a group photo– inexplicably– … Continue reading Captured

Arrive with Peace

I have been waiting to hear those words.  Their meaning: You are home, we are glad. Your absence was felt.   Your presence matters.   Alhamdulillah al salameh.  The literal translation is along the lines of, “Praise God you have arrived with peace.”  It invites the response, Allah yesalamek: “May God give you also peace.” But my ears have been listening for this … Continue reading Arrive with Peace

The Most Dazzling

She inhaled deeply from a bright red hookah.  She had bought it with money she earned by teaching Arabic to foreigners, and brought it on this day to enjoy on my front patio, as she told me about her recent hard conversations with her fiancé’s family.  Tone staying cheerful, she switched to English for the serious line. “I may never get married … Continue reading The Most Dazzling

Christmas Songs

Hazy and muddled, specific and definite.  My memories patch together like an heirloom quilt in reverse.  They remain clear and crisp in the places that are held the most frequently.  They fade in the places that are not often touched. Perhaps the vagueness of this one memory comes from its being annually repeated, in some … Continue reading Christmas Songs

In the Middle of the Art

This was unexpected.  I had arrived in Zurich the day before, with plans to spend two days roaming this city.  En route to a company leadership training in Germany, it was the first time in months that I had left my sandy home town.  I was greedy for some new scenery. A dragon guarded the … Continue reading In the Middle of the Art