Swapping Americas

“Welcome to the USA” says a brown and white sign in a long, empty hallway. These words, green twinkly lights at the foot of the escalator, and a sunrise greet me at 5:50am in the Houston airport.

I was surprised at how funny it felt to fish out the dollars from the bottom of my backpack and get clean money back as change instead of the odd assortment of rumpled, taped-together notes, hard candies and aspirin. Welcome back to the place where different-colored people politely say “excuse me, is this yours?” when you accidentally leave your belongings behind. The place where a middle-aged woman in a pink t-shirt solemnly looks straight ahead, arms up in ballet motion ready to pirouette right out of the body scanner in the security line, and you try not to laugh as you witness this misplaced grace.