Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The USA (01/08/09)
TITLE: The Tug of Nations
By Sonya Leigh
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“You mean they dance and jump like you showed me in my notebook?” My only concept of cartoons came from papa’s demonstration, flipping rapidly through the edges of a notebook to show how stick men performed jumping jacks.
“That’s right.” He nodded his head once.
“Who will come get me?” I asked.
“Your uncle, auntie and cousin, of course.”
“How will they get to the airplane?” I imagined a taxi pulling up in front of the plane as we all piled in on top of my suitcases.
“They have an Oldsmobile.” He said.
“Old?” I asked with one of my English words.
He smiled and peeked at me from under one eyelid. “That’s the kind of car it is.”
“Why can’t you come with me?” I asked.
But before I could hear his answer, I would bring my mind back from that conversation, from my distant memories, back to America, where the soil of a thousand countries mingled under my feet. On the playground where the neighborhood immigrant children played---where I played--I kept my appointments with hope.
I would jump onto the swing and thrust my legs back and forth, rising higher and higher in search of hope, until I was airborne and until my heart took flight over to my father’s land, gliding above the minarets, swooping The Sea of Marmara, where I could taste the salt once again and smell the fragrance of ocean fish.
I soared for months on that swing set. And with each upward motion I gulped a breath to fill the longing for something that had passed too quickly. I could not stay away. I yearned to be with the ones I left behind. I would whoosh up until I was perpendicular to the bar holding the swing, until I floated back to my grandmother’s yard where the redolence of one soil, of one voice and of one family filled my being.
I decided that maybe hope alone could be enough to hasten my father and grandmother to the U.S.A.--ahead of schedule--where they would find all the world’s languages in brick buildings and small apartments, and then be able to watch them miraculously transform into broken English on the streets.
Once again I revisited the deep rumble of papa’s voice and the sound of his beating heart as it had been on that May morning. Da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum. Had the song beating there been the same as the one in my own heart? Don’t-go, don’t-go, don’t-go, don’t-go. I had curled my hand around his arm and played with the contours of his muscles. To remember him. Today his same answer echoed as it had on that May morning. “I’ll come…you’ll be…very soon…with me.” Da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum.
Today, I can not change the fact that I took the long flight across the Atlantic without my father, that I had missed him more than words could say. But when the day finally arrived, I was there to meet his plane at the airport in Washington, D.C. And then, some years later, I met my grandmother there as well.
Together, we learned to navigate our new country and we grew to love its diversity. But the transition was not an easy one. There was a scar that remained for many years from the ripping away of familiar life. It is a faint shadow now, more a reminiscent birth mark, with just enough color to help populate the soil of my America, far richer than any other soil I know.
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