To all those who have made me smile…
To my mom and dad who raised me to be the best version of myself…
To Diafora who inspired me to become a young author like her…
To Basmala, my BFF, literally…
To my grandma, the strongest woman I have ever known…
To the world..
Monday, April 16th
“So, that settles it? We're going tomorrow to the U.S.” I asked.
“Yup, we're heading there tomorrow,” dad replied.
My dad had just booked us a flight to the U.S. after a long search for the best flight that fits our budget and timeline. I didn’t know what to feel, excited, sad, happy, or not react emotionally at all.
Next day I had to go to school because our flight was booked at midnight. I woke up, got ready, and headed to school. I was so excited about telling everybody that I'm traveling tonight. On my way to school I started feeling weird. I thought about how much I would miss everything. At that moment, I realized that it’s not going to be easy.
When I got there I greeted everyone and told them that I’m traveling tonight, they were shocked. All my classmates cried, so did I. The grief in the classroom that day was overwhelming, everyone was crying. I hugged all those who have once mattered to me until my shoulders hurt. They all wrote to me and gave me things to remember them by.
When I hugged my language teacher, Ms. Reyes, she said “don't cry, Ozel, You’re going to live a better life than ours.”
When I came home from school, I packed up all my stuff and sat down thinking about everything. My auntie asked us to come over and have our last lunch in Spain with her. Since we didn’t have the time for making our own food and we wanted to say goodbye to her, we accepted her invitation. We went to her house and had lunch with her, the food was so delicious that my mom asked her for the recipe, which is something she rarely does. After having lunch and saying goodbye we went back home and finished up what we had to do.
“ Did you pack up all your stuff?” Mom questioned.
“ Yeah. ”
We loaded a truck with our suitcases and headed to the airport with my uncles and grandma from my mom's side.
At the airport, we had to say our last goodbyes to my uncles and grandma. I didn’t want to, they meant a lot to me. At least my grandma, I didn’t want to leave her. I hugged her and wished that I can stay with her forever. I needed more time, we all needed more time. None of us wanted to leave, it was all sudden and we couldn’t believe it.
We had our passports checked, went to the waiting lobby and waited our plane. When it arrived, we got on it, each one of us sat in their assigned seat. Mine was beside the window, next to my mom. Since it was night, I was able to see my reflection in the window. I stared at myself for a while, long hazel hair, wide brown eyes, long eyelashes, thick eyebrows, and a lost soul. I wondered what’s going to happen when we arrive at NYC airport. How’s everything going to be afterwards? Will anything stay the same?
Our trip was estimated to be seven hours long. That meant that we're going to be in the air, no ground, for seven hours. I never liked that, because I was afraid of heights, so I kept that idea out of my mind. I spent the first five hours asleep, when they offered the meal on the plane my mom woke me up to eat. The rest was spent watching movies on the screen in front of me and nothing else.
I looked around in the plane, no one seemed to be the same as the people I used to see everyday. They all were different. I thought about how many ethnicities could be on that plane, the first one I had ever rode.
When the plane landed, my littlest brother started yelling in Spanish, “we are in America! We are in America!” His startled voice was all over the plane.
In the airport, we took our suitcases, had them inspected again, and went out of the airport. My dad called my uncles to come pick us and our suitcases up. Our suitcases were loaded in my youngest uncle's Pickup truck and we took my older uncle’s van and headed to the house my dad had rented for us to stay in for a while until we can buy our own house. We weren't financially stable, and that made it hard for us to actually find a house that fits our budget.
Before we even unpack anything, my uncle had asked us to come over for lunch. We went over, had lunch, and went back to sleep. Our sleeping schedule was all over the place, we slept at afternoon and woke up at nighttime. We were like that for a week or so. At the beginning, the first week, I tried to contact all of my friends whom I had their number or account on Facebook. I was so excited, they were too. Only because they wanted to know how life was in the U.S. not for me. They didn't really care for me. I thought that they were only busy with their own lives like I was, but, apparently, the thing was that they weren’t really “friends.”
I had to discover all these new things that were nothing like back home. First, Walmart that I never seen what it looked like from the inside, and then I got to discover some parks nearby our new rented apartment in NYC.
After a month or so, my dad had bought two new bikes for my brothers. Antonio, the older one, and Lorenzo, the youngest. Antonio was almost my height even though he was eleven and I was fourteen. While Lorenzo, the youngest of all, was only four years old. Back home in Spain, Antonio and dad only knew how to ride the bike. Meanwhile, Me, mom, Lorenzo, and my sister Elena who was only one year younger than me, didn’t know how to ride the bike. I wanted to learn that so badly, and as for Lorenzo, he used training wheels.
“Papa, I want to learn how to ride this,” I said, pointing at Antonio's bike.
“Okay, okay. I will teach you but be patient. Your brother just got it Ozel. Wait a little, let him enjoy it," dad responded.
Just the day after my dad had bought the bikes I started learning how to ride on Antonio's bike.
I was fascinated with the way the others do it. Pedaling, going fast on only two wheels, not afraid, and coming back like it's nothing special. It took me about four days to actually be able to ride the bike without any help. But it took me almost a month to know how not to fall and control the bike better.
I became obsessed with bikes. I loved them. I wanted to learn more and more about them.
“Why do you like bikes so much? You’re so obsessed with them even though you barely know how to ride them,” Elena remarked.
“It’s none of your business, Okay?” I rolled my eyes.
She had always irritated me on purpose. I felt like she was always just looking for things to criticize me for. I had always wished that she wasn't my sister. And sometimes, I wished I had no siblings at all.
Sunday, June 16th
It's been two months now since we came here to NYC. I know how to ride the bike now and got one for my own. My cousins had finally finished their school year only a few days ago. That meant we're going to have some fun because those last two months were boring and had no excitement in them.
All of my cousins spoke mostly English, which meant that I had to catch up with that if I wanted to communicate with them freely. My English wasn’t the best. I had a lot to learn. The two languages differed a lot. I had to comprehend all of this to be able to speak good, understandable English.
“I’m so glad we’ve finally finished the school year,” my cousin Maya confessed on one of the family gatherings.
“Oh yeah. Good for you guys. I finished school two months ago,” I chuckled.
“How come you guys finished school so early? is that even possible? the school year in Spain ends in June too.”
“I know. But the thing is, we took our final tests early in order to come here. That’s why we finished in April.”
“Yeah I know. No need to tell me,” I bragged.
“Huh. So confident,” she muttered.
The family had planned a trip to the beach together. We prepared the stuff for the trip the night before the day we were supposed to go. When the day came, I packed up my swimming suit and put on a light grey sweatpants and an azure blue T-shirt. I've always loved blue and grey, they were my favorite colors. I felt like they were too colorful and calm, which made me love them even more.
On the way to the beach, I looked out of the window at the buildings, modern, fancy, famous, and expensive shops. Things that I’ve never seen before were displayed in front of my eyes. This is a whole another world, I thought to myself.
When we reached the beach, I was so excited. I prepared myself for swimming and jumped in the water. I loved swimming so much even though I hadn't swam many times in my life. We swam for two hours, splashing water here and there, drinking water unintentionally while swimming, and having tons of fun.
After getting out of the water, we wrapped ourselves with beach towels and waited in the sun until we dry. Meanwhile, the family was starting a fire for a Barbecue party. When we dried up, we changed our clothes and sat with everyone else and ate. after having an awesome day of swimming, eating and having fun with the family, we went home. On our way back home my mom kept talking about all that had happened that day.
“Mama, seriously, come on. Just forget about it,” I exclaimed.
“It’s none of your business, Ozel. Ok? I'm just explaining my feelings about this trip.”
“Ok. Ok. I'm sorry mama.”
“Yeah, that’s better.”
“Did you see how Antonio jumped in the water. My heart sank at that moment. I thought something bad was going to happen,” she continued.
“Don’t stress about it. How is he going to learn if he doesn’t do that,” dad commented.
“Oh yeah? so I’ll just sacrifice Antonio's life just so he learns,”mom argued.
“I didn’t say that,” dad added.
“ Just forget about it.”
After a long day, we finally got home. I unpacked my stuff, everything was put back in place and then took a long hot shower before I went to sleep. That night, I dreamed about my grandma. She was sitting on the beautiful black velvet couch in her little apartment. she was humming a nice rhythm that I didn’t recognize. But her voice was so soft, softer than usual. My grandma's voice was so soothing, I felt like I’m sitting on a cloud with angels singing around me. When I approached my grandma to sit next to her, Elena woke me up. I was so frustrated. It was such a beautiful dream, I felt so peaceful and safe I wanted to sleep forever.
From a delightful dream to the boring morning routine. First, go to the bathroom, brush my teeth and wash my face. Second, change my pajamas and comb my hair - my least favorite part. Third, prepare breakfast and then eat it and go on my boring day.
“Guys I think that I’m going to enroll you in a summer school,” my dad stated while we were eating breakfast.
“W-What do you mean by summer school?” My voice was unsure.
“Well, it’s just like school but it’s in summer with shorter days and less classes.”
“I don’t want to go to summer school!” Antonio argued.
“You should go to get better at English and make some friends,” dad was determined this time.
“No, I don’t want to go. We’re going to miss all of the summer fun,” he argued again.
“I think it’s a good idea for us to go,” I admitted.
“After all, our English needs improvement and we need to make some friends so we can sit with someone on the lunch table instead of sitting all by ourselves like weirdos,” I continued.
“Yeah, let’s enroll them in the summer school, Mateo,” mom assured dad.
“Ok then, we are going to summer school apparently. But when?” Elena asked with a sigh.
“ Next month,” dad answered.
So it was decided that we go to summer school. I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to go but I sure had to. I was so concerned about how am I going to make friends, it was always hard for me. Last year, because I transferred schools, it took me two months to have someone to sit with during lunch other than my sister Elena. I have a very shy personality and that maybe why I didn’t make any friends in such a long time.