Starbucks in the Middle East
Today I went to Starbucks. This was a Starbucks on a last-stop base in Kuwait, where soldiers come before finally reaching Iraq. My brother came through here when he went through his deployment.
I’ve gone more than 25 days without Starbucks, and now the ability to drink something familiar was an escape - an escape from the Arabic world I’ve been in for almost a month. Being 6000 miles from home for an extended period of time is something like being on a spaceship - when I’m at home, if I want something, I only have to drive minutes (at most, hours) to reach it. But here, there’s nothing I can do. If they don’t have something I want, there’s nothing I can do to reach it. If I started panicking, and wanted to go home, there’s nothing I can do. If I needed contacts, or special guitar equipment, or some rare tools, there’s nowhere to go. Even indoor restrooms aren’t something taken for granted here.
I’m in the desert, over 6000 miles from home, in a place where I’ve been warned not to venture far. There are anti-American communities nearby, and we stand out like a sore thumb.
Starbucks is like an escape, like getting to temporarily step outside the space capsule through a magic doorway, back into my neighborhood. And then walking back through the door and returning to the confined bubble thousands of miles from home.
So I ordered my normal drink, and sat inside the Starbucks looking out the windows at the blast barricades surrounding it.