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Bangladesh: Going Stateside

Moving has never been hard for me before now. I never left Harare; I came to America. I never left New Delhi; I went back to Virginia. But I left Dhaka. I left it in a whirlwind of last minute shopping, hastily thrown together goodbye parties, and limp preparations for a senior year that I would not be part of. I was too busy to cry (much). There were bear hugs and bare hugs; double kisses, one on each cheek Euro-style; Mr. Witte, the center of the school, telling me that it will always be a great day to be a Tiger, even in the U.S.; Mrs. DeMarshe and Mrs. Bissmeyer's cool, solacing hands on my forehead; Isabelle and I reassuring one another that we'd always be "best girls" and dragging up every old, lame inside joke we'd ever shared to keep the mood light; Rubin absorbing my tears in his hair. The seniors told me I was one of them, because we were all leaving the same year, and that I was lucky to have graduated without having to complete a Senior Project. I was supposed to meet Chas on the plane ride, but we had different flights--one of many unsaid goodbyes.

Summer went by like that brief rainy season after Bengali New Year. It delivered me freedom, escape, romance, and time to grow. Then it dried up and gave way to a new school in a new place, with new people and a new culture. I probably shouldn't use the term so loosely, but I swear it's culture shock.

Virginia does have its good points though. There are extraordinarily sweet people: like a boy who went out of his way to give a hysterical stranger a hug, and a girl who shared her locker stash of snack bars with her hungry classmate. I must admit that all these trees have a pacifying effect, to which even my allergies have succumb. The local "roadhouse" has a catfish and potato dish that I have dubbed "the comfort food of all comfort foods."

School gives so much less work here that I have time to read, think, and run. I'm beginning to like my daily jogs. Tuning out the pain in my chest, and thighs, and calves, and shoulders, and back lets me focus on just moving. It's good to be in motion.

I have time to experiment in my writing, too. I've chucked out the five basic paragraphs of: "Tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em. Tell 'em. Tell 'em what you just told 'em." It bores me. It's so freeing to be able to experiment with words and phrases, styles and ideas without being told from the get go that it won't work.

With all the freedom, once in a while I still hate this place. Then I realize that I don't hate Virginia. I miss Isabelle, princess and master chef. I miss Rubin, the prince who is already in Norway anyway and discovering that life is not pleasant for a pauper, even in a socialist country. I miss Katty, the Gypsy queen. She is finding herself in Shantiniketon, and I am finding myself in melancholy states of mind. She is right though. She tells me that I left Bangladesh to go find something new in another place. A girl grows complacent if she stays in the same place for too long--these girls do anyway. I just wonder what it is I'm meant to find.


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