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Fictional Memoir: Moving to America
When my parents told me we were moving to America, I didn’t believe them for one minute. I still didn’t believe them when they started teaching me English. I only started believing when we got on the plane to California, more than 9,000 miles from where’d I’d lived for 15 years.
It’ll be an adventure, they said. You’ll love it, they told me. But I didn’t want to love it. I wanted to go back to Düsseldorf, where our family and friends lived.
After I’d learned enough English to get by, my parents sent me to a regular American school. People pointed and stared. They made me say random things just because of the German accent that they thought was so funny. But to me, they were the ones with the funny voices.
I didn’t understand practically anything that I was taught in school. Nothing made sense to me. The math was confusing, I had no foundation on history, I wasn’t familiar with the English language, and science was taught in more depth in America than it was in Germany. Never had I felt so abandoned, since I did very well in school in Düsseldorf. My whole world disappeared within the blink of an eye, and with it, myself.
One of the only things that was the same in America was the music. I indulged myself in it, spending hours a day listening to some of my favorite bands at a dangerous volume.
Grades suffering, loneliness increasing, my parents became concerned about me. It was unhealthy for a fifteen-year-old girl to spend so much time trapped indoors, listening to music on headphones. But they didn’t understand.
Eventually, my parents made me get a job. They didn’t want me sitting around at home any longer. Having a job as a teenager wasn’t as common in Germany, so this came as a strange concept for me. My parents found me a job bagging groceries at the local supermarket, which they thought was perfect; I would barely ever have to talk, and who could mess up bagging groceries? So there I worked, earning $11 an hour everyday after school.
Since I didn’t have a car, I had to walk from the supermarket back home at 6:00 each night. This was the time I spent wallowing in my strange new world, because seeing people going about their everyday lives helped me realize how different it was here. Even some of the things I didn’t enjoy when I lived in Germany, I missed in America. The smell of cigarette smoke, which was a very common stench in Düsseldorf, became rarer than it had ever been to my nose.
But there was nothing I could do to change it.
All I could do was turn my music up loud and walk through life quietly, like a shadow, until I was old enough to go back to Germany on my own.
In three years.
I didn’t think I would ever survive that long in America. For some reason, that realization hit me hard. It would be three years before I could see the rest of my family and friends again. Would they even remember me? Would they even care?
All of a sudden, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. It was like a dark cloud of depression had swallowed up my mind. I hated America, I hated it, I hated it. I didn’t want to live there any longer. I soaked myself in hatred and sadness, letting it become me. I became more distant to my parents, even though they worried so much about me. I became deathly pale and thin. My grades dropped from D’s to F’s. It was like my mind became frozen in one moment, but my body kept on growing older. I almost forgot how to breath.
Until that one day.
I was walking back home from the supermarket on a Tuesday, my eyes ready to close in sleep. Music pounded through my head, drowning out all the emotions swirling inside my brain.
But then a noise broke through. I didn’t think much of it; I turned up the volume on my iPod and kept on walking. But the noise came again, an unfamiliar sound. I turned the volume up once more. But then, it was impossible to ignore.
Someone was laughing.
I popped my earbuds out of my ears, and searched for the source of the noise. I realized that I was walking by a playground. I could see it through a rusted chain-link fence. Children--they couldn’t be older than 8--were yelling and laughing and giggling as they ran around, went down the slides, and climbed up the play toys.
Their grins were impenetrable, and nothing could ruin their day.
Try moving to another country, I thought to myself sourly, and kept on walking.
I turned when I heard a squeaky voice address me. A little boy was peeking through the holes in the fence. He had tufts of bright red hair on his head, and his small, pudgy face was spattered with freckles. His eyes were a beautiful green, impossible to break gaze with.
“Why do you look so sad?” he asked bluntly.
I shrugged, and turned back around.
“Wait!” he exclaimed. “Can I be your friend? Will that make you happy?”
I froze. A… friend? This little boy that I’d never met before wanted to be my friend?
“Go away,” I told him, ignoring my beating heart.
“But I want to be your friend!” he insisted. I turned around, about ready to explode. But then I looked into his green eyes, and all the rage melted from me. He really wanted to be my friend.
“Ask me again, tomorrow. I’ll be walking the same way again.” I responded, unsure of what else to do.
“Okay!” he said cheerfully, then ran off to have fun on the playground.
I walked towards home, feeling a strange sensation on my face. I lifted my fingers to my mouth… and realized it was open. I was smiling. This felt good. Smiling was nice. Then I heard a sound, this time coming from my own mouth. Was I... was I laughing? I guess I was!
I didn’t know it at the time, but that little boy changed everything. He made me realize that people do care, and not just about themselves. I wasn’t alone in this strange new place. I had 39 million other people in California with me.
And the next day, when I walked back from the supermarket, the boy was there waiting. And I told him yes.