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April 24, 2018
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Suffocating.Without realizing, I spent six months suffocating. Two months ago; when sitting in a counselor’s office, tear marks streaked down my face. The counselor said, “Isabel, you moved to a new school in a new city in a new country. You left your home, your friends, and everything you knew. You’re telling me you don’t know why you feel completely lost?” I had spent six months with my mind in Miami but my heart in Dubai. Six months lying to myself about how I felt.

The air started cutting off at the airport. I hadn’t let myself cry until this moment, preparing to board the flight that I was sure would tear me away from my home forever.  I decided to say goodbye on the plane, looking out over the beautiful city one last time. At the final check-in counter, the flight attendant told my family there were seats available in first class. They were ours if we wanted them. This only added to my naive romanticization of the goodbye. Since childhood I had dreamed about flying in first class on our local airline. As I grew up I labeled the dream as childish and unimportant, and stored it in the back pocket of my mind. The flight attendant’s words only distorted the reality of this moment further. In my eyes, this was Dubai’s farewell gift: a childhood fantasy made reality. The air kept escaping as my eyes started misting.

Half an hour later, sitting on the plane, I was in a haze that lasted six months. Preparing to say goodbye, to look out that window and smile at my home one last time before braving the new adventure that would encompass my life. But reality sank in. I didn’t have a window seat. The doors separating each passenger had to remain closed during takeoff. By the time I finally got a chance to look out the window my city was gone. The moment passed. The breath of fresh air evaporated.

I spent the next few months in denial. Miami was fine. My classmates were friendly. My life was okay. The air kept sputtering out. No one knew me. Not the way people in Dubai did. I was quiet in class. The teachers here didn’t know my name. Teachers had always known my name.

Realizing that something was wrong, feeling overwhelmed by the smallest of problems, I reached out to my health teacher, who directed me to one of the school counselors. Walking into her office was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Admitting I was not okay was excruciating because it felt life-altering. It wasn’t.
Two months later, breathing once again, I left behind the mentality that fleeting moments in life will alter my existence forever. Never again will I give a singular moment the power to hurt me.

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Tia Anita said...
today at 9:32 am
You have voice, profound, compelling, full of feeling. Congrats and keep wrinting. I was touched by your narrative.
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