Two days ago, my husband and I were on our way to the airport. We had just had a lovely three days exploring a new European city, meeting new friends, tasting beers and wines, eating all of the best street food Europe can offer, and ordering things we didn’t recognize in mangled French.
The three days we had been in Brussels, there was cloud cover so thick it felt like perma-twilight. Damp, cold, and gray – a blissful change from the sun and heat we are accustomed to in Abu Dhabi. But two days ago as we headed to the airport in the backseat of a Uber, the sun rose and the sky was this beautiful blue puffed with rose gold clouds. It was 7:45AM and the city was just waking up on a Tuesday morning. We were heading back to Abu Dhabi after a quick but delightful vacation.
At 8:00AM we were standing in line at the ticket check-in counter behind a man who was taking a painfully long time. Like forever. An airline staff member was going over sheets of paper with him, maybe a change in flight? A different connection needed? I occupied myself by pulling the luggage tags from our arrival flight off of our bag while my husband poked around on his phone.
I will write more about what happened next. I will probably write about it a thousand times – certainly I have already relived it countless times since – but all I can write at this moment is that we are safe. That we ran, that we got out, that we have each other. That a kind stranger picked us up from a blockaded roundabout when we had no where to go. That another kind stranger held me in a hotel restaurant as I cried when we finally realized we were safe. She told me that I must be strong. That we called our families, and were relieved to connect with friends. That free wifi and smart phones have become our threads to sanity and reality elsewhere.
Two days later, we are in a different city a few hundred miles away from what happened in Brussels that morning in the departure terminal and still working our way towards home which is another day or two away. The inconvenience is pure luxury. We wash our clothes in the sink and listen to the bustle of the city we’re currently in, a city that’s business as usual with street cars and honking taxis and sirens that mean small fires and car accidents and not trauma. We have turned off the news. Our friends are sending us funny things from the Internet and we feel the guilty wantonness of laughing at fat cats and poop jokes.
One moment at a time.