i think maybe it’s something we share, us immigrants, us children of immigrants, those of us thrown into diaspora, scattered across countries and continents with names we still struggle to pronounce, further from the heartland than our parents ever dreamed we’d end up. we spend so much time in airports, picking people up, dropping people off. there is always someone leaving, someone coming back, and it exhausts me- this perpetual meeting and parting of ways. we miss the births of nieces and nephews, we miss funerals, we are condemned to celebrate and mourn without each other. when ladan was born we slaughtered a goat and shared it with strangers. i saw farah when she was two years old, and again at her wedding. we cry when our mamas leave, when we leave them, our time together is measured piecemeal, it is always too short, it is never enough, we milk these precious moments for all that they’re worth. we stand in lines at airports, bear suitcases that hold gifts as offerings, it’s a condolence, always an apology. you say i’m sorry i was gone for so long. always someone, maybe your niece who is four tugging on the hem of your coat asking when you’ll be back again. soon you tell her, you kiss her on the forehead and you know soon is never soon enough. you hug your aunt and tell her you love her. on the plane you watch the city and all those you love grow smaller, distance blooms wide and unforgiving in your mouth. both here and there, neither here nor there, call it the immigrant’s burden, this weight, this persistent longing we carry on our backs. always someone asking you to stay, i can’t, you say, every single time.