Before my vision loss got so bad that it ended my career, I traveled extensively overseas teaching English as a foreign language. For more than twenty-five years, I was either flying out of or back into the United States during school holidays and summer breaks. A fair amount of time was spent in transit at various airports.
I loved walking around, getting a feel for the country by way of the airport, seeing local memorabilia in the stores and soaking up the ambiance. I used to purchase a special perfume (I think it was Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds) at the Duty Free for years along with as many books in the memoir section as I could find.
Dubai has the most extensive collection of multicultural authors I’ve ever seen. It was the highlight of my exit from the Middle East. Sometimes I picked up five or six books to read while I was home.
Also, whenever I went to a new airport, I always sought out specialty chocolates. Lindt was my favorite.
I especially enjoyed long layovers in London at the Gatwick airport, and my favorite time to travel through was Christmas. They had carolers, wonderful displays, delicious fudge and such a festive air about the place. Amsterdam was another favorite. The stores held over-sized wooden shoes, various cheeses, beautiful blue kitchen stoneware, postcards and gorgeous seeds, which I bought for my dad. They produced the most gorgeous tulips I ever saw.
I liked arriving at JFK (John F. Kennedy) in New York City because that meant I was “home” — on American soil again. We often buzzed through customs there.
In Detroit, there was a fantastic tunnel painted in psychedelic colors linking the international airport to the domestic section, which I really enjoyed walking through.
Sometimes I curled up in a ball, my feet guarding my carry-on bag and crashed (as best as anyone can crash in a sizable airport) but most of the time, I people-watched and secretly eavesdropped on from over the pages of my current memoir as I waited.
Languages have always fascinated me and I used to really concentrate to figure out what was being said between the passengers, especially Arabs since I lived for so long in the Middle East.
I liked seeing different traditional clothing of Indians, Pakistanis, Arabs–the ones from the Gulf mostly wore their traditional garb but once in awhile, I noticed both the men and women shed it upon leaving their country–French, Spaniards and other Americans.
I’ve had many wonderful experiences, talking and observing others in transit. So, this story, Gate A-4, touches a sensitive nerve in me and even makes me homesick for the travel I once took for granted.
When I read “Gate: A-4,” I thought, Yes, that’s the world I remember and still want to focus on!
Gate A-4 is a short but heartfelt slice-of-life tale penned by what seems to be an American woman of Arab descent, a slice-of-life story that embraces the joy we all encounter when we focus on the moment. It has a strong message of hope and unity. Check out David Kanigan’s blog for the story.
Would you like to read more of this type of story on my blog? Sometimes I feel my cultural experiences have gotten left behind since I’m now blogging about the challenge of the everyday experiences I go through. Let me know in the Comments!
You have read “A Slice of Life from Around the World,” copyrighted by Amy L. Bovaird (Gate A-4 remains the copyright of David Kanigan and guest writer, Naomi Shihab Nye, featured on his blog, Live and Learn). If you enjoyed this post, check out Amy’s memoir, Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith.