One Night in Ürümqi – Epilogue

The next morning, inert and hungover in Rihangül’s bed, I wondered if Colonel Aziz would ever have the pleasure of traveling to my homeland. Even through the nausea I could remember the pleasant tingling in my stomach and the longing that collects in my throat every time my plane enters New York City airspace and takes a high arching turn over the Statue of Liberty—a monument I have never visited. Wings flexing, pushing at angles against the updrafts and crosswinds, soaring down and across in its majestic nighttime descent through the underlit clouds covering the island of Manhattan like so many silver pillows.

Then, there it is below, immense as a sudden galaxy: Gotham.

No better feeling in the world exists as we fly up the length of the island, and I lose all sense of time, still adrift in the memories of the journey but energized by the bright, flickering sight of my home. I feel weightless, elevated, excited. All boredom and anxiety leave my being, and I am floating alone, ecstatic, in the night air. That’s

why I insist on booking the window seat despite my claustrophobia:

for this beautiful, hard-won return.