It rained the night before and there were puddles in the dips of the tiled sidewalks so that everywhere I walked I left an elliptical trail behind me, fading with each step I took. The sun was setting quickly so, hurrying beyond the gate, nodding a little to the green-uniformed officer, I ran out into the busy streets. Hoisting the faded tote bag higher onto my shoulder, I turned a left and walked towards a garishly lit jumble of buildings, their bright yellow-white lights leaving dark spots in my eyes.
A drunk man teetered past me on wobbling legs and a group of uniformed schoolgirls skipped by, laughing – yet even the familiar took on a peculiar bent in my mind here. This was not home, I kept thinking, but I should've at least felt something close to recognition when I'd stepped off the plane. Instead I felt acutely out of place, my mouth and my movements giving me away completely as a foreigner.
The taxis rushed past, and when I tried to cross the street the cars moved slowly over the crosswalk, paying no heed to the white flashing pedestrian sign. A bell sounded anxiously behind me and a bicycle passed within two inches of me; the burst of wind it kicked up ruffled the folds of my shirt. One of the twigs from the branches it'd been carrying in the small cart dragged behind had lashed out at me and there was a faint red line on my leg left from where it had hit me.
Standing in front of a carton of oranges, I asked a saleswoman how much they sold for, but something in my wording was off and she looked at me strangely. The words flew out of her mouth too quickly and I had to ask her to repeat them for me once, then twice. I could see in the lines of her face that she knew I didn't belong. It was a fact further proved when I told the cashier that she'd overcharged me when in fact, I just didn't understand the currency.
I can't remember how I'd thought any of this would turn out or why I'd wanted to come here, but I know now that this is the reality I'd been waiting for. This reality – it expressed itself the moment I'd stepped off the plane. I felt as though my identity had consolidated into something egregious and tangible, spread across my forehead – Hello, I'm American. You are now free to ask me awkward questions about everyday life there.
But I keep my mouth shut when I go out now, and mute, I am like anyone else on the street. The streetlights are coming on, flickering on one by one down the street, and when I climb the stairs to the fourth floor, when the door screeches so hard that the little dog downstairs starts barking again, when I shout the words "I'm home" to my relatives, I feel like I'm doing something wrong.
Note: listen to this - Annabelle by Hail Social
i just thought...that the writing sounded better with this song behind it.