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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The USA (01/08/09)

TITLE: The Tug of Nations
By Sonya Leigh


On that May morning in 1967, papa had kept his eyes closed while answering my questions. And I listened, my head rising and falling as it rested on his undulating chest. I was eight years old. “Yes, they have a television and every Saturday you can see a show of moving comics on it, just for children.”

“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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This article has been read 693 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 01/15/09
Beautifully, beautifully written.
Laura Anne Harrison01/17/09
Beautifully written! Well done!
Beth LaBuff 01/20/09
I loved those flip books! Your story is so poignant, told as only one who experienced it could. I loved the reflections back to your papa's heart and your poem. The conversation was so tender… I could see it all. With your ending, I breathed a sigh of relief when you were all reunited. Beautiful story, lovingly told. Your title is perfect (and clever)!
Joe Moreland01/20/09
As everyone else has stated, this was beautiful. I especially appreciated how you wove a picture of the anticipation of coming to the USA through a child's excitement of seeing cartoons for the first time. For an adult it can be for personal freedom, or the potential of success. And then you made it fade and lose its luster as she began to yearn for what had been left behind. Just as many adults do once they've chased the dream of coming here. This is what made your story so poignant; and you told it so well. Thank you.
Myrna Noyes01/20/09
What an incredibly well-told story!! :) You definitely have a wonderful way with words! Very, very satisfying!
Sheri Gordon01/22/09
Congratulations on your EC, Sonya! This is very well written--a beautiful picture of the history of so many immigrants. Good job with the topic.
Beth LaBuff 01/22/09
Congratulations on receiving an Editor's Choice, Sonya!
Myrna Noyes01/22/09
Sonya, your wonderful story was one of my favorites this week, and I am so glad you earned an EC for it! :)
Charla Diehl 01/26/09
Beautifully crafted story which speaks of the sacrifices the immigrants made in search of a better life. This is a tender telling of how we must not lose sight of God's blessings. Thank you so much.