Four years ago at my high school graduation, I began my speech with “Eight years ago.” Today, I would begin it with twelve years ago. That is where I find my words, in those “twelve years”.
In 2003, I entered this completely new world that I only recognized as a vacation spot. I cried the whole way on the plane, wiping the tears away as they came, and I dreaded the move. I wasn’t big on change then, and to be honest, I’m not that warmed up to the idea now (but I’m trying).
I had to suck it up and go with it: new school, new friends, new home, different faces, a different language, and somehow, along the way, I was sucked up in all these things, even the little things.
For instance, the breeze that one of my best friends sent me a message about last night. The summer night will be so hot sometimes, but then, for a brief moment, a gust of air enters and suddenly, it isn’t so hot anymore.
Then, there’s the olive groves that can be found almost anywhere you look.
There’s also the call to prayer that reminds you to keep a little faith.
There’s the loud streets of Ramallah and the quiet talks of old men near coffee shops.
There’s the summer night sahras that hold tradition.
There’s the friends and family in every corner.
There’s nostalgia that keeps that words coming.
There’s also the grape leaves that grow right outside your house door, winding and covering branches and metal pipes. Back when I wasn’t here, the grape leaves were found on one of the shelves in a glass jar made with a yellow lid and label in a Pakistani owned supermarket. I don’t miss that. I like the old-fashioned picking and putting in empty water bottles.
It’s these little things and more.
Tonight, I went to visit my mother’s best friend who just moved into a new home, and all those feelings from entering our home all those years ago came rushing back. The smell of paint and dust. The clean, white walls. The empty walls. The echoing. That’s what it was like twelve years ago.