Thursday, May 22, 2008
Arriving at the airport was an overwhelming experience. Everybody was bustling; there was a deafening noise and an intense feeling. I was nervous and apprehensive being there and realized that it was only ten years ago that my life changed so drastically. As I stepped outside, the sun’s rays hit my face. That bustling and deafening noise prolonged into the outside. I stopped and tried to tune out the noise but it kept going. As I stepped out, there was a sense of openness and freedom. The land was rich and filled with people, cars and scenery. I was in Tirana, Albania.
My parents, who both lived and made their lives in Albania, now wanted something more than what they had growing up. My parents sought freedom, and a better education, for their children. They knew that none of these opportunities were available to them during their lifetime. Communism in Albania was at its highest point when my parents went to school in the early 60’s and late 70’s. Their lives were not easy; they were dictated on how to live, what to achieve, and what to accomplish. They had no choices. This was because of the government and mostly because of its leader, Enver Hoxha. He wanted to create a socialist identity for Albania. It worked until Albania started to reject communism in 1992. My parents saw an opportunity to change this series of events from happening again when my brother and I were born. Before I knew it, at the end September of ’96, I boarded a plane that would take me to Somerville, MA in the United States of America, leaving behind of my birthplace and the first six years of my life.
I remember going to preschool and having fun with some friends. I remember family members who live in an entirely different. I remember the buildings in Albania, my home from the time I was born to six years of age. Seeing as how I was only six, my memories are a little dim. But I do remember starting out my new life in America. I was daunted. I didn’t know what to think of this place known as “The Land of Opportunity”. To me it seemed like a different world. I was unable to communicate with others; I couldn’t socialize and make new friends. I felt alone unless I was with my family. As time progressed, I learned to adapt and become more acclimated with this new world. From this experience I gained self-confidence and a sense of courage.
In the summer of 2005, I had a chance to visit Albania for about a month. I was in shock and didn’t know what to think or feel. It had been ten years since I had lived in that world. The weather was warm and muggy. There were some bright sunny days where the water was undulating by the sun’s rays and there was only one day where the skies turned dark and frightening. The air quality wasn’t as good in the city as it was near the beach. In the city the air smelled like food and in some areas I could smell trash. At the beach the air was refreshing and appealing. The smell of salt and freedom filled the air. The people were another story. They stared like they knew who I was while others looked at me like I was an outsider. Around every corner a surprise was awaiting.
Everything was strange, but yet oddly familiar as I walked down the streets, rode on the bus and ate at the restaurants. As I did these activities I felt a memory jog to when I was living there. Each step I took was another time in my life.