Everyday, when I walk to and from the bus stop there’s a man that greets me. It doesn’t matter the time of the day, he’s always there on that sofa looking outside of the window. He looks like he could be my father. He always raises a hand and gives me the warmest smile I’ve ever seen in my life. If Holland hadn’t sucked me dry of a self-esteem I would have said that it almost seems like he is just waiting for me to pass by. His smile and my mother’s phone call are the only thing I’ve grown certain of in this country.
There is so much I need to get off my chest, there is so much i want to write about. Like my landlord who casually claims it’s my hair that makes her grandson scared of me, how her saying this makes me feel livid, but I know better than to discuss casual racism with someone who could be my grandmother. Like my roommate who wakes me up from my sleep all the time with her loud music at 4 am. Like the way most classrooms at the university smell like wet dogs and no one bats an eye, like the smell of white sweat doesn’t bother them. About how much I have wanted to throw up in a bus, because some of these people smell like they are rotting in their own skin. Like the teacher who I desperately want to befriend because i think she is cool, but shrugs me off constantly cause I am just another irrelevant student. Still, speaking about negative experiences when I am in a position of privilege makes me feel shame. It’s a lot of young women who want my life. Who would bow down at this opportunity. I wanted to leave home, I wanted to go to an university and I wanted to make dreams come true. So I did, so I am doing but somehow I am hollow inside.
Reading the boy in the striped pajamas, crying at Bruno’s innocence I was reminded of mine.
How I was also full of questions and desperately wanted to believe that people were good. How I questioned someone else’s circumstances, because they were so different to mine. How when I was getting history in the second year of MAVO, I was fascinated with the holocaust. How I silently dreamed I could see the concentration camps with my own eyes one day. Over a decade later I was on a bus to Poland and I did. It was gray and eerie and the tour guide did the absolute most to revive the story. I was just there, numb as hell not knowing what to think of it. Then in 2010 or 2011, I bumped into Alysia Harris’s poetry and spoke so much about wanting to meet her. Next thing I knew I was on a plane to London and I did. She was real, she knew me, she hugged me and as she hugged she rubbed my back like she cared I existed. Like she too, had been waiting to meet me. So, there is a lot more. so much more that happened simply because I casually happen to be in this country.
I have a lot, I have more than I’ve ever had in my whole entire life. I got Son’s smile, and Noene’s understanding. I have Jessy who I can twerk with all the time, and Quiomy who is a train ride away, I got a decent place to sleep, a little extra money in my bank account but, there is still a sad in the middle of my chest. it’s there because my family isn’t close enough to hold. Its there because nothing compensates for the way I miss my little cousins, for the way they are days I just want to get home from school and see my mother’s face. Its there because I have all I ever asked for, but the people who helped me get here – are not here to share this joy with me. This has been my toughest lesson, I have humbled myself greatly.
Life is about breaking bread, with those who saw you starve. Truth is, I want to go home for the weekend, but home is too many miles away. As I count down the days to seeing them again, I am reminded that life is nothing without those you love.
“Europe wasn’t life changing, it just made home a whole of a lot easier to locate on a map” – Alysia Harris, Songs for flight