One year has gone by.
My head spins when I think back on all that happened in 2011.
If life is called a roller coaster, 2011 was fucking King Da Ka! Or I don’t know, the highest, steepest, fastest ride in the world…yeah, that’s what 2011 felt like.
Around this time last year, I was packing up what I thought was my life in Sunnyside, preparing for what I thought would be the biggest move of my life, to Albany…4 hours away from NYC. This day in 2010, my mommy friends gave me a surprise baby shower by showing up to our semi packed up apartment with balloons, gifts and so much love…so much love that I felt like I was coasting on the sheer power of that love even on the loneliest days in Albany. The same night, another bunch of friends gathered together on some pretext or another and that too turned out to be a surprise baby shower.
How did I get so lucky? It almost made me glad for all the bullying and hatred I’d suffered in school. Maybe this was Allah’s way of rewarding me for my patience. My reward was not finished yet though.
In the next few days, I found my little family in the most beautiful home I’d never dared to dream about. It was my style, my preference shaped in brick and mortar. Dark wood floors, bright walls, a warm brick fireplace, a huge loft sized bedroom and add to that, the most beautiful views from all the windows of the Hudson valley mountains and the village we were in. The type of home even my mom was loath to leave once she visited us.
Happiness to me comes in careful measures I guess though I don’t question it as I understand that there is some great wisdom behind that too. Not even four months had passed, when Wizard’s new manager stabbed him in the back and after telling him to his face that he was doing an awesome job, told the consultancy company he was working through that he was not coming up to their expectations and had his contract terminated prematurely.
What a huge shock. I’d given birth to Falafal just recently, already a hormonal mess from the post partum blues and here I was, sitting next to Wizard trying to be his rock while I was crumbing inside in fear. I tried to get some warmth from the bright sun streaming inside our room, but everything was cold…the air, the wooden floors I was so in love with, the stark staring walls… If I had to describe what the phrase “the world crumbled around” me meant, I’d think of that time.
We started planning immediately for the time left on Wizard’s active immigration papers. We had till June 30th, to find another job or leave the country. One thing was certain: badly burned; Wizard was adamantly against working in USA anymore. The next time he worked in America would be as an American citizen when he can claim his rights for termination notices and unemployment benefits. He would never allow an employer to do this to him again: one day give a present for his new child and the second day, a pink slip. We were planning now for a pan Atlantic move.
In order to receive our security deposit from the building management, we were required to give them a month’s notice before moving out. In that one month, we tried to pare down our belongings as we’d have nowhere to keep them once we moved out. The plan was to move with just clothes and small belongings that can be brought with us to Turkey. Thanks to our new friends, we were able to sell/give away/throw away most of our big household items. Despite the one month notice, the management refused to give our deposit back and that really was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Will no one in America give us a break?
In all this moving and sulking, I was not unaware of the effect everything was leaving on my 3 year old daughter. She’s three, and naughty and monstrous at times but she is the brightest little sprite I’ve ever met. Nothing escapes her notice and even on our final car ride back to NYC with our remaining life in several 4 gallon trash bags, she asked if she’d be able to see her Albany friends again?
The next was an overload of happiness and misery all rolled into one busy month of preschooler sized excitement. Monster was happy as can be with her cousins and I spent every day catching up with my sister and mother and even commiserating with my (gentle only to me) big brother. No one was pretending though, our flight to Turkey was looming over us always like a thick cloud.
Till the last day, my sister kept shrugging saying things like “You’re the one kid in our entire family that has assimilated so much that you cannot be anyone BUT a New Yorker. There is no way you can have a life anywhere outside of NYC…Allah will come through in the end and you’ll end up staying. You just watch.”
Allah did come through in the end…The day before our flight on June 30th, Wizard agreed to give one job interview. Oh but the miracles and ways Allah works, we only found that he got the job…after we landed in Istanbul.
I kept looking into Wizard’s eyes in our times together, for a glimpse of reconsideration…maybe we can move back. All I saw was the same determination, “Only when and if I can go back as an America citizen.” There was no more possibility of him ever giving into the elusive American dream. Fuck it, I told him. I’m with you wherever you want to be. I never asked him to reconsider that job offer again. We’d landed in Istanbul and I too, dug in my heels to get ready for yet another ride.