I couldn’t sleep.
I didn’t know if I could share this perspective. I was and remain scared.
I don’t remember the war. I was 2 years old. There’s a piece of my life I can’t remember here and I don’t want to talk about it.
I remembered having to leave Germany in 1997/98, not knowing why I had to leave my friends. Not knowing why I had to leave the Race Track my dad bought me. He said it was because the outlets were different.
I remembered arriving in Phoenix Arizona. I remembered the heat. I remembered learning (and I’m serious) most of my English through the Disney Channel and through The Goofy Movie. I remembered being called Mexican in my ESL classes. My dad said it’s because my skin was quick to turn an olive color (and I didn’t speak English well).
I remembered my ESL test in Lincoln Nebraska, the Cornhusker state, a year later. I remembered seeing a picture of an ear of corn on that test. One of the answers was maize. I missed that question (the only one). I had never heard that word before.
I remembered 9/11, I remembered playing soccer at West Lincoln Elementary before school started. I remembered not understanding why people would attack New York. I remembered watching the news. I remembered the grief. I remembered “never again”.
I remembered the call to action. The “unity” of battling an “enemy”. I agreed. We should always stop those who attempt to oppress others.
I remembered the word “terrorist” and “muslim” becoming synonymous. I figured it was just quicker, allowed for more commercial time on the news network. Scare the audience so that they come back from the commercials for the next segment.
I remember being worried about losing my rights to privacy on the internet. What a beautiful tool it is.
I kept having fleeting memories of my dad turning to Fox News while I’d lambast the comically inflamed rhetoric and scare tactics. Don’t they have anything better to watch?
I kept remembering him repeat that I shouldn’t voice my opinions in politics around my friends, because “you never know who’s listening.” What a cynical old man.
I kept remembering him repeat that I shouldn’t identify myself as a refugee, as a Bosnian immigrant, or as a person who comes from a bosniak(muslim) background. People aren’t that ignorant here, dad. America is the beacon of liberty and freedom.
I could hear him repeat “you shouldn’t join that organization at UNL”, “you should assimilate”, “don’t stick out”. College is for expanding your perspectives dad.
I then remembered his stories about the war.
I remembered why I never had an opportunity to meet most of my grandparents.
I remembered the impossible notion that people could commit genocide.
I remembered the forced exile.
I remembered that we were less than human in their eyes.
I remembered not wanting to move.
I remembered being worried that the next place wouldn’t have Pokemon cards.
I remembered not being wanted.
I don’t remember why.