On the day my parents returned from three months in Bangladesh and my sister returned from a week in the Netherlands, exhausted from travel, they sent me texts from three zones away, ate some soup, and went to bed.
And while they slept, our 45th President decided to launch 45 + 5 tomahawk missiles, without congressional approval, on a country whose refugees he won’t accept.
I watched the news spread across our country — first friends from New York and Baltimore and Pennsylvania, writing things like, “He is bombing Syria right now.”
Then I started seeing it picked up by Emily in Madison and Shira in Chicago. And slowly the posts began trickling in from around the corner— Seattle, Los Angeles, and Portland. Portland, where I was eating Thai food and looking at the clouds. Portland, where I watched the news spread like tears, like blood, like the tremors of an earthquake, like water spilling, moving westward, like the sun, getting closer and closer to where I sat.
I had just walked through streets of tulips and daffodils, yard sculptures, poetry boxes; a mild day with a threat of wind. I landed at a place I’ve eaten several times over several months —for the same three months, in fact, that my parents were in Bangladesh. I took a picture of the plants outside to compare my view to the one I’d seen in January, in a rare snow storm, to see how far we’ve come.
I had been thinking about where I’ve been in those three months, and the ones preceding them, and looking towards the months to come. I had been feeling lucky. I’ve had a week of friends, good work, ocean, forest, cherry blossoms, writing, laughter, talking, reading, walking, planning. Expansion. Passion. Peacefulness. Hope.
Feeling these things, I picked up my tea, tapped open my phone, and saw the news spreading across my feed.
Friends are traveling in Utah and Michigan. Friends are sitting down to the opening night of a film festival. Friends are growing gardens, cutting their hair, baking cupcakes.
Friends are noticing that the missiles were launched, and slowly the theories and questions begin to seep across my feed as well.
My parents and sister arrived safely back in the US, as friends were writing about upcoming windstorms and current sleet and never-ending snow, in the places they are — the things that could have kept my family from reaching home, but they got there safely— things unlike the mild sun where I’m sitting.
My parents and sister slept as our 45th President launched 45 + 5 missiles to kill whoever is in their path — or to distract us from something else? To take us out of time?
In Dhaka it is 9. In the Netherlands it is 4. In New York and Michigan and Indiana, it is 10. In Chicago and Madison, it is 9. In Utah it is 8. In LA, and Seattle, and here, it is 7.
We travel and plan and worry and eat and walk and sleep and wake again.
I send photos to my friend in Australia, who was just in Berlin. A photo of where I’ve been living. A photo of what I’m eating. A photo of flower petals composting — pink, warm, browning into something that will make things grow, over time.
In Australia, it is noon. In Berlin, it is 4.
I eat my Thai food, and a baby fusses and cries. I hear the mother tell someone that they are from Indiana, here in Oregon, here where the world swirls and I drink my tea and Brown-Eyed Girl plays, and then Bob Marley tells us “Every little thing is gonna be alright.”
I compare my photo from January, where we came from, to the one right now, where we are.
In Syria, it is 5.
And I wonder what’s to come.