Miriam and I just got back from a trip up to Portland, Oregon to visit my family and help celebrate her first birthday. On the plane ride back, we waited until the last moment to board so that Miriam could have every opportunity to stretch her little active legs before I confined her to her status as a lap infant on the airplane.
When we finally boarded the plane, I found that our seat was a center seat (ugh) between a woman and a man, not traveling together. The man almost looked Middle Eastern to me. As I sat down and arranged myself and Miriam in our tiny space, I wondered how I could broach the subject and ask where he's from. I spoke a little bit in Arabic to Miriam out of habit, as I sometimes do, wondering if he would notice, but he either didn't hear, or he wasn't Arab and so he didn't care.
Then Miriam noticed him and decided to get acquainted. She can be quite the charmer when she wants to be. And that turned out to be our conversation catalyst - as she smiled at the man, he asked how old she was. I told him, and then decided to just go for it - I asked where he was from.
"Syria," he replied, in an almost weary voice. I said, "Anjud?????", completely incredulous. He was shocked to hear me say something in Arabic - they always are - and his attitude changed immediately. He told me that he gets tired of being asked that question and having to explain all about it. We talked on and off for the rest of the flight about Syria and his family and my family. I only wish Jeremy could have been there to talk to him, too. It made me miss Damascus and the wonderful times we had there.
I used to think stuff like that only happened to Jeremy. He's always meeting Arabs in random places, no matter where he goes. But recently, I've met Jordanians, Lebanese, and even Saudi Arabians around town. The Saudis I actually met at Babies R Us, which must have been awkward for them since they were two male, unmarried college students studying English at the university. I'm not exactly sure what they were doing there.
I gave the nice man my blog address, telling him his wife would probably enjoy My Adventures in Syria (she's American). So if you're reading this, I hope you had a good trip in Phoenix and are back with your family in Texas!