Friday, the 27th of January, 2017.
Will it be remembered in 50 years? Did something historic just happen? Or was it just a terribly misguided mistake made by a terribly misguided group of white men which will be forgotten as a political miscalculation? Or did a country of immigrants officially begin closing itself off? Boarding the shutters, preparing for a long winter.
Alone and reviled. Cold.
Is this how quickly the ground shifts beneath us? We ask ourselves these questions as we travel through Denver International Airport on Saturday, the 28th of January, en route to Kathmandu. The tragic irony of our unencumbered movement as privileged citizens of the most powerful nation on earth could not be more apparent, on this day more than any other, with our air of privilege wafting around the currents we make in the circulating air of the airport. A lot of air of different textures. Our family holds four increasingly weathered US passports.
We buy tickets. We get visas. We travel. For pleasure. By choice.
We stomp around the globe.
How can we take this for granted? We come and go. As we please. With very few exceptions.
Again, we cannot expect our politicians to know this.
Very few hold passports.
We passed through security in DIA to board our first flight to Tokyo, nodding to TSA. No fear. No concern. In other airports on that day, travelers from 7 arbitrarily chosen countries were held, detained, torn from family in Boston, in NYC. They lost their hopes, their dreams. They were tired. They were weary. They were sent home. And others lost thousands of dollars, along with their dreams, or perhaps their travel plans. Their desire to visit the US. To see their family. To study. To survive. Stranded in Sana’a. In Tripoli. In Tehran. Now what?
We drink coffee and eat sandwiches.
We are not questioned.
We have signs. Silent protest. We are learning to be activists.
“Closed Doors Do Not Make (the) US Great”
“Support the first amendment”
“C l h g y”
The last one is a protest sign that Celia drew that morning, testing her command of the alphabet.
Celia and Mason run up and down the moving walkways.
Shannon and I plan how we can keep our kids engages for 12 hours.
It’s the system, stupid.
We soar, like the privileged masters of the universe that we are, over British Columbia, the Kenai, skirting Kamchatka, over skies in the west pacific that 71 years ago were atomically corrupted. WE did that. By the very nation that flaunts its privilege. Against the nation where we now find ourselves. Ginsberg told us about it.
Landing in Tokyo-Narita. Transfer to Bangkok.
7 more hours of flight, now with ANA and not United. Finding Dory. Intermittent naps. Pre-recorded books on tape. Japanese-style sushi bowls in plastic trays. Apple juice. Tomato juice.
A night at the Great Residence in Bangkok.
Then, taking the shuttle back to Suvarnabhumi, relief. We have officially passed beyond the threshold of US carriers and into the territory of Thai Airways. We are on our final leg of the journey.
Thai Airways allows for smiling attendants.
Clouds, hallucination or summits? The game plays itself out as we soar northeast from SE Asia.
Myanmar. Bangladesh. Meghalaya. West Bengal.
That may be Kanchenjunga. That may be Sagarmatha.
That IS Kathmandu – receiving us through the clouds and through the haze. The cradle of the Himalayas; where the vast Gangetic plains have given way to the worlds greatest mountain range. Reminding us of mountains beyond mountains. Where massive mountains become mere foothills. Where tectonic collisions that can only be understood within the vast scale of geological time remind us that the transitions of our sound bite world pale in comparison to the epic transitions that gave and continue to give way to the Himalayas.