I’m a terrible judge of time, so it helps that I measure the passage of time in terms of events. For instance, I only allowed myself to get excited about going to America once my history exam (which was the day of my flight by the way) was over and done with. Prior to that, I only started studying for my history exam when my best friend moved back to the US. Dates, or proximity to dates, never mattered for me; what mattered was which events flanked the arrival of aforementioned date. Maybe it’s a history student thing, or maybe I just suck at time. Both are equally probable.
Getting to the real substance of this blog post, yes, I am in America. Specifically…somewhere between Dallas and Houston. I don’t know, we’re on a motorway, sue me. I was least excited about being in Texas because of all the stereotypes surrounding it. In my defense, we didn’t have a very good first impression; my poor brother was brought aside for a friendly interrogation which itself lasted for five minutes. The wait was the real annoyance. And after a seven hour flight, a three hour layover, and another nine hour flight, having to wait for about 25 more minutes is enough to make anyone murderous.
Aside from the airport, what struck me was how friendly everyone seemed to be. I’m used to perpetually annoyed cashiers and sulky store clerks, so this was a ridiculously refreshing change both from the Dubaian status quo and Texan stereotypes. At Gamestop, I ended up having a long conversation with the cashier about how it was to live in Dubai – and subsquently cemented the nice man’s desire to move there, REPRESENT! – much to my cousins’ confusion.
Having grown up in the US of A, I guess it was just…normal for them to see friendly people. I’m not accustomed to it so whenever I do see a friendly person, I start rambling from excitement. Heck, my brother and I even talked to a guy who wanted to know whether we’d ever seen a UFO. That was cool.
The other thing I noticed, which was a small disappointment, was that everyone more or less dresses the same. Tank tops or crop tops and shorts. Rinse and repeat. And repeat. And repeat.
I feel perpetually overdressed here with my hats and jeans and flamboyant eyeliner. It’s a little embarassing… though I did see a juggalo in Target.
This was how I planned to start out a lengthy blog post chronicalling my visit to North America. Unfortunately, and very predictably, I was side-tracked from actually doing this. Now I find myself in London Heathrow, waiting to board our plane back to Dubai. …two months later.
What did I say? I judge time by events and this entire vacation was so jam-packed with events that I lost track of time entirely!
Two months in North America. A month in USA, the other in Canada. And what a trip it was. Meeting my cousins after 8 years, going to Six Flags to get my adrenaline fix thouroughly and wholy satisfied, flying to Boston, the city that would own my heart if not for my beautiful Lahore and…well…I’ll get back to Boston soon.
Texas was a bit depressing for me because I’m not used to suburbia – I’m used to skyscrapers and nightlife and lights everywhere and seeing very little sky, frankly. But it was worth it – between my family and Six Freakin’ Flags, it was thoroughly awesome. Also, I went to see JFK’s assassination point. I won’t lie – I got a bit emotional.
Then Boston, which I will get to, then New Jersey and New York. New York City was wonderful – my mother and I went to the Met Museum of Art and spent three hours just gushing at all the prettiness, then Central Park – which while pretty, was very underwhelming – and then Times Square. Which was overwhelming for even a city slicker like me. I mean, four floors of Forever 21? Who needs that much!?
…I’m kidding. It was awesome.
But the highlight of our trip – certainly for my mother – was watching Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic Theater. It was incredible and there were certainly points in the play where my mother and I got teary from the atmosphere. It’s a totally different experience to watch a play, knowing that people are actually in front of you exerting the effort, putting in all their emotion into singing and acting and just delivering a performance they want no one to forget. Everything was incredible, from the set, to the lighting, to the orchestra. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.
Anyone who knows me, or has talked to me for like five minutes knows how much I crave Boston. I crave it like I crave coffee on a Sunday morning when I drag myself out of bed and off to school. And now that my craving has been satisfied, I can talk about it.
In a sentence, spending three days in Boston was like going back home after a long, long time. It was as if I knew everything already – my excitement waned because of how natural it felt to be there but my happiness didn’t dim for even a second. Everything, from waking up early to ride the T to the Museum of Science, to walking through the Boston Common and strolling down Harvard Square felt so familiar. It was made tenfold better by the presence of my beloved friend, Anna. I’ll get to her and Alyssa soon.
Even visiting Boston University – my dream college – was so perfect. BU is like a small city in itself, with a view of skyscrapers too so I don’t have to freak out! It was all so old and yet new, buildings covered in ivy, red bricks, everything that I love. And there’s like a coffee shop right there.
When I saw the skyline of Boston recede after my tearful farewell with Anna, I felt like I’d been torn to shreds. Like someone was forcefully pulling me from my home. And honestly, the only thing that keeps me from crying at the thought of not being in Boston is that in but a year, Inshallah, I will be calling it my home.