Once upon a time a month ago, we begin the longest possible explanation of how I broke my Isha prayer last night.
It started with two friends of HusbandFriend, each of whom lost their fathers within a week of each other. Inna lillahi wa inna ileihi rajioon. Prior to that, HF and I had both been missing our respective families and parents, but we were wary of international travel in a pandemic. When his friends lost their fathers, one within short succession of another, HF and I both agreed that it was time to travel before it became too late. Loss of parents is a middle-age milestone that no one expects but everyone knows will come.
So HF booked the kids and I for a whirlwind, cross-continental tour of Dubai, Muscat, and Istanbul because why the heck not. We left before he did, since he had to get the time off from work, and went ahead expecting him in ten days or so.
Prior to that, we had been trying to get our wonky kitchen repaired. I spent the week before our flight in a whirlwind of tile selection, countertop warehouses, and contractor conversations whilst also attempting to buy gifts, pack, and empty a kitchen slated for renovation and its associated pre-destruction.
Prior to that, the contractor we had selected had some difficulties- some in translation, some in scheduling, all coming out at last minute, that resulted in the entire project being cancelled days after I had finished the work on my part, and hours before we were supposed to fly. That was ok. I needed a vacation from renovation at that point anyway. So we hopped on a plane, slept in our masks, and made our way to Dubai.
Prior to that though, thanks to global warming and the unstoppable juggernaut of policy choices that have lead to it, our flight from Dallas to Dubai was delayed for three hours while planes and runways were being de-iced. By the time we left, we knew that our connecting flight in Istanbul would either be missed, or very, very close to leaving.
Prior to that, in Dallas, while waiting out our 3-hour delay and attempting to not watch the Superbowl halftime show on EVERY POSSIBLE SCREEN, I watched people come and go. I have always been fascinated with people sprinting through terminals. There’s probably no other scenario in our otherwise mundane lives where we see people running for their lives, or at least for their flights. People lose all their cool, public, international traveler manners, and huff and puff and panic their way to their gates. I watched people running back and forth through Dallas airport and thought wow, I’ve never been one of those people before.
But then, I got to be one of those people in Istanbul. When the plane touched down and I was able to turn my phone on, I found out that our connecting flight hadn’t departed… yet. I usually wait for everyone else to get off the airplane before I do, not only because I have wheelchair assistance, but because I don’t like the politely awkward jostling of getting your carryons down from the overhead bins while also being in line with a hundred other people who are also trying to get their carryons down. This time though, I told the kids – grab your things and run.
So we ran – to the head of the line, off the plane, and out into the terminal where an airport employee was calling, “DUBAI?!” and we answered “DUBAI?!?” and he pointed vaguely into the distance and yelled “GO GO GO!”
We were not cool, but we made it. At one point, Musfira tripped and fell, but she stoically picked herself up and soldiered on. Thank God the gate was a short, 3 minute sprint. We arrived at the gate as the door were closed, hobbling and out breath, to be rushed inside the doors that were then immediately closed behind us. We were the only people to make the connecting flight to Dubai. I know this because we were the first ones off the plane and the only ones who made it in before the cabin crew closed the doors. Alhamdulillah, we made it. Our luggage, however, did not.
As such, we arrived in Dubai exhausted and without luggage. The Owliebird picked us up and took us home. We had pizza and fun and a month later, after a wonderful vacation seeing family in the UAE, Oman, and then Istanbul – it was time to go home.
Prior to this, we had a mad 48-hour holiday in Istanbul, which I will try to write more about later. It was amazing. It was delicious. It was… pedestrian. The roads in the old city were built before the invention of cars, and we travelled faster on foot than by taxi, even taking breaks in between for my wonky feet. We spent an exhilarating – and exhausting – two days shopping, eating, seeing, and marveling. Then, we put our tired selves on a plane back home.
It was during this flight that the kids were given free reign to eat their candy and watch the (thankfully!) censored selection of movies on Turkish Airlines. HF and I did the same, and eventually we landed in Dallas without further delays or adventures.
Prior to that though, it turns out that our house flooded. We know this, because HF secretly found a backup contractor to complete the kitchen renovation as a surprise for when we returned. They painted the cabinets, replaced the cracked old countertops, and were set to replace the floor tiles. They were in the home stretch of the secret renovation when water started coming up from below the floor.
(Prior to the that, we had a slab leak that had gone undetected for so long that there was mold growing under the floor.)
And that brings us to yesterday. We are staying in an AirBnB home about 25 minutes from our real home, where the floors are missing and the water has been turned off. We’ve had many adventures, a whole slew of insurance-related frustrations, and to put it plainly- we’re all tired and we want to go home. But we won’t be able to for a while, so we put a movie on for the kids.
Except Khalid didn’t want to watch it, which is fair. Going Red is very cringe, and not worth the time spent watching it. Khalid wanted to have gone to sleep, but given how small our temporary home is, there wasn’t anywhere quiet that he could find in the house until the movie was over.
It was 10:30 by the time we were ready to pray Isha and get to bed, and it was during this time that I overhead the following conversation.
Khalid: Aaargh, I’m so tired.
Musfira: Why didn’t you go to bed earlier?
Khalid: I couldn’t, the movie was too loud.
Musfira: Why didn’t you use your earplugs?
(Prior to this, we had been given earplugs and sleeping masks on our flight. They were small, red, and came in clear plastic packaging. Like…candy. )
Khalid: I don’t have any. I ate mine.
Musfira: … what?
Khalid: When we were flying back I ate some suspiciously rubbery candy.
Musfira: You ate your earplugs???
Khalid: I was tired. So I just went with it.
And that is the short version of the long story of how I burst out laughing in the middle of prayer after a month-long journey of family, fun, and flooding.