My two Khalas (Aunts) had a party for me today and it was quite fun. I scraped the side of my thigh while trying to cheat during a game of Marco Polo. I tried to hoist myself into the baby pool, that is attached to the larger pool, and couldn’t. In an effort to be helpful, my two cousins, W and M, tried to push me in the baby pool. At one point, my head was in the baby pool with my chest and hip scraping the brick divider. I think I heard howls of laughter while my head was underwater. My extended family was drinking tea, eating watermelon and shouting instructions and encouragement during our games and enjoying my many attempts at cheating.
It was a fun day. But it was also really sad and a reminder of what I’ll miss. No matter how hard I try, my family is in the U.S. and is not going back to Afghanistan. I don’t expect them to and personally get quite frustrated by those who expect all refugees to return. It’s been 26 years since we’ve left and my parents have worked hard to build stable lives for us all here. This is home. So, why do I want to go back?
While everyone was laughing and talking, my mom would stop, turn and sadly look at me. I don’t know what she was thinking but it was probably the thought that I’ll be far away and somewhere that isn’t really safe. She’s religious, so she knows that it’s God’s will but it can’t be easy for her.
My Uncle K, who nicknamed me ‘stupid teenager’ years ago, told me, “After your contract is up, come back. Don’t waste your life there.”
I don’t know. It’s not wasting my life. But I’m Afghan and the bulk of my family is not in Afghanistan.
I’ve planned to spend a few years in Afghanistan and then move back to the U.S, Inshallah. Hopefully, I’ll have a job that will allow me to participate in the reconstruction and travel back at least once a year. But this is all daydreaming.
I can’t get into the mode of daydreaming about the U.S. I spent the last three years daydreaming about going to Afghanistan and working there. I cried when I couldn’t get a job there in the summers and was insulted when I was once told that I didn’t follow up enough. I have to be happy where I am. And be happy with all the choices I have. The freedom is scary. I guess I can't stress about it.