Bahrain. In the early evening. In the spice souk, downtown. Just after dusk, the sky has turned that dark deep blue just before it actually turns black. A warm wind blows through, drawing the heat out of the streets and buildings. Women in black robes with nothing visible but their eyes that shine and flash hurry past, formlessly beautiful. The smell of spices I can't identify pulls me farther in the maze of dimly lit streets past the main road, and I follow it until the gold shops are only a glow off to my left. I finally stop when I realize that here, the shops have all closed for the night, and I look around, breathing in deeply the warm summer air, and I think, Ahh, to be young and in the Middle East in the summer!

But I've only visited the Middle East, never lived there. And when I returned to Bahrain a year later in the daylight, it was hot like the inside of an oven set to Broil, and the wind brought fine gritty dust that got in my mouth, and it stank. But always, when I think of the Middle East, I think of that night in Bahrain when I was ready to pack up everything, convert to Islam, and marry a beautiful dark eyed Bahrainian woman just so I could stay there forever.