Foreign Static

May 24, 2012
By AlySzcz BRONZE, Toledo, Ohio
AlySzcz BRONZE, Toledo, Ohio
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

The city streets roared as his eyes blinked against the foreign sun. He stepped out from the awning, looking about like a newborn giraffe. A sudden assurance coming over him, he grabbed his luggage and continued his journey. He had no idea of what to expect on this spontaneous trip, no accommodations of plan; it had only been 24 hours since he had decided to pack his bags and see the world. The flight had been turbulent, and it had almost made him sick, as he'd never been on a plane before. Though as he awoke that morning and saw Liberty and Ellis Islands, he felt a sudden sense of freedom, and wondered if this was how his ancestors had felt as they crossed the threshold into America.

He had little knowledge of America's culture, and knew only broken English. Signs flashed their bright neon messages at him, though he couldn't comprehend what they were trying to tell him. People rushed about madly, a car horn or siren erupted from the static chatter of the streets every few seconds. Still rolling his suitcase behind him, he searched for a place where he could exchange his currency. He soon found the band and made the exchange, after a rough conversation involving the band teller, a translator, and a cactus.

The sun was even hotter when he stepped back out of the strangely cool building; the machines inside which made the room feel chilled were intriguing, giving him a child-like rush of curiosity and excitement. With no idea of the time, he carried on, wading through the throngs of people moving in every direction. He chose New York City for several reasons: the city was famous worldwide, it was a big city, and it held adventure. It was a melting pot, essentially, with businessmen and tourists (much like himself) wandering about, along with the residents who walked around with a look of typical annoyance in their eyes; whether from the tourists, the traffic, or the screeching street vendors.

He came across a hotel of honest pricing, and decided to get himself a room. It wasn't an extravagant place -- linoleum floors instead of marble, and the lounge furniture consisted of worn down couches and threadbare area rugs rather than fancy leather love seats and fake ficus trees. The clerk had a friendly face and was a young man, no older than himself. He suspected it much be a family business, and with that he took his key. He found his room and stored his belongings. He didn't care to get too comfortable; the day still held much potential. After changing into cooler clothes and organizing a bit, he emerged from the hotel, once again feeling the hot sun on the back of his neck.

Turning a corner, strange scents filled his eager nose. The smells were both captivating and repulsing. He soon saw why, vendors filled the street, a cart every few feet. Pretzels, hot dogs, ice cream, and anything a person could ever crave was all located within a reasonable distance of each other. The vendors' cries grabbed his attention left and right, and he had no idea which of these delectable items he should try first. He eventually decided on the pretzels, and approached the grotesque man behind the cart. The seller wore a grease-stained apron over a large pot belly, and had facial hair organized in disarray. His yellow teeth were exposed as he sneered out the cost of a pretzel. He gave the seller what he assumed was an acceptable amount, and waited for change, the pretzel, or both. Both it was. The seller handed him the change first, a quick trick that left him scrambling for coins which fell to the ground. Next came the pretzel, the warm scent wafting on the breeze. He acknowledged the seller, who grunted in return.

He decided to do a bit of sight seeing before the sunlight started dim. He remembered that he wanted to walk around Central Park before he left, and decided to take in the views of the part as it was drenched in the setting sun. The statues and stones he saw glowed within the dim lighting, and he hoped that he would remember this sight for years to come.

He added many attractions to see on his list; Time Square offered thrills and sights, and there was a variety of shops and diners in which he could spoil himself. Foreigners like himself stumbled around, people looking and listening in disdain at the sentences that spilled out of native mouths. He wondered if people looked at him like so when he spoke, a foreigner in the world's melting pot was still a foreigner. Perhaps he should have researched more before he came. Should he have made the snap decision he did? Should he just get back onto a plane and leave? He knew not, but decided to wander back in the hotel.

The city at night was a much more of a calming place than it had been when he first arrived that morning. Vendors were packing up their carts, no longer boasting their goods. Children slept in their parent's arms as they were loaded into taxi cabs. Businessmen walked drearily to their buses and back home to their families. There was still that static chatter, but it was dimmed to a murmur. People no longer looked at him as if he were a science experiment, due to his skin tone and accent. People only wanted to return to what they knew for the night, same as he wanted to do. The street grew narrow and he approached the hotel. He gripped the chilled metal door handle and stepped inside to the worn down furniture; the night clerk greeted him warmly. He clambered up the stairs to his room, and more importantly, his bed. As he settled down for the night, he looked back upon the day's events. Surely, he thought, this had all happened for a reason; he was meant to be here, he just had to find his way. With that, he let himself drift off to sleep, the cries of street vendors echoing in his head.

The author's comments:
Inspired by George Gershwin's "American in Paris", I hope this piece reminisces with a part of everyone, a part that's been in the foreigner's shoes, and knows what it's like to take in a completely new place.

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