This Valentine’s Day I cried more than I can recall. They weren’t romantic tears of love or joy; they were tears of pain and disgust. I kept (and keep) asking: Who am I to be this lucky?
All of that guilt came out in the bathroom of the Mckittrick Hotel after I saw The Flight – an immersive theater play with no real actors. It’s a story of two Afghan orphans- Kabir and Aryan who made the treacherous journey from their home town in Afghanistan to England.
Who the hell am I to hit a double jackpot?
The current global refugee crisis is the number one policy issue I care about. It’s a real tragedy that we refuse to take refugees into our country. These are human beings fleeing for their lives, asking only for safety. In response we close our doors and debate building walls.
I try to be involved – I donate to the IRC, I volunteer for local refugee groups, and I often attend lectures on the topic. In my recent job search, I desperately wanted to find an organization that helps refugees. Then, I found Empatico.org and it was forever ever after.
Yet, I still feel guilty. I think it’s absurd that I was born in a safe country, and then literally won a lottery which allowed me to legally immigrate to an imperfect, but in many ways one of the best countries to live.
Who am I to be born in a family that cares about me, celebrates me, and loves me every single day? Who am I to be married to the most incredible man I have ever met? How is it that I get so much when others have so little?
I met my husband outside of a fancy elevator, which dropped us off in a 1920’s train wagon straight out of Westworld, except it’s located on a NYC rooftop. The Mckittrick Hotel experience is always full of mystery – you’re better off not expecting anything at all, and so, I went in blind. All I knew was that the play was called ‘The Flight’, and that’s it.
I was the first person that was selected from our wagon. I waved goodbye to Camilo and followed the staff’s directions. They sat me down in my personal booth and fitted me with a pair of headphones. As soon as the faint lights passed out of my field of vision, the show unveiled.
For 45 minutes, I followed tiny figurines of Kabir and Aryan on different parts of their journey depicted on the slowly moving carousel. Ironically, the slow movement only highlighted my emotional roller coaster. I was hopeful every time the boys screamed out ‘Kabul-Tehran-Istanbul-Athens-Rome-Paris-London!’, and my heart cried for them through the tough times of hunger and abuse. The music and lighting of every scene was amazing – perfectly matched to reflect my emotions. I won’t say much more because the novelty of the experience is part of the reason for how powerful and personal it feels.
Make it count
I came out of the show shattered but also determined again to live every day as if it was a gift – because it is.
It’s been a month now since I saw the play, but the story still feels close. It came back recently as I mindlessly complained about trivial issues, so I decided to write this piece. Trying to be the best version of myself every day is my way of saying thank you for the abundant gifts I’ve been given.