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  • A couple of years ago, I was setting off on what some would consider the trip of a lifetime.

    An airport taxi driver picked me up outside my apartment in Jersey City.

    He was a young Egyptian, perhaps a recent immigrant given his thick accent. Christian icons adorned the taxi dashboard, so he was probably one of the thousands of Coptic Egyptians that reside in Jersey City, home to one of the largest Coptic Egyptian communities outside of Egypt.

    The day was unseasonably warm for late February, and the driver had rolled all the car windows down. Arabic pop music flooded out onto Eighth Street, drowning out the chirping of birds. I pushed my pack onto the backseat and slid in behind it.

    "Newark Airport, right?"

    "Yes, please. Terminal B."

    “Where are you going?” The driver was in a chatty mood.

    “Antarctica,” I said excitedly.

    He looked at me blankly through the rear-view mirror, through his sunglasses—a metaphor for the barriers between our languages, our backgrounds, our reasons for traveling.

    “Oh. Are you from there?”
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