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The Town in Oklahoma
by: Aisha Al-Muslim

I had only a month living in the United States when we moved to Oklahoma. In the first month, my family and I stayed in Maryland. During this month we passed our first American Christmas.
During my first Christmas in the United States, it had snowed. I was so excited because for the first time in my life I saw snow. Any other immigrant, whose country does not snow, gets excited about the same thing. The fall of snow. It is even greater when it is during Christmas time. It makes you feel like you are in those Christmas movie you always see on TV in your country.
We went to Washington D.C. and saw the White House, the Capitol Building, and some other memorials.
After the New Year passed we finally made a move to Oklahoma. We passed several states from Maryland to Oklahoma. They were Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas. This was the first time that I had a traveling experience of the United States. It was even greater because we traveled in a car, so I got to see almost the entire states we passed through.
When we arrived to Brookline, Oklahoma it was around January 4th or 5th of 1997. We had to stay at a motel as my stepfather Ralph, looked for a house for us to live in. Ralph was in the army so he was stationed in Oklahoma. He had been serving the Army in Panama as a cook. Since most of the army men had to leave, because the Panama Canal was to be given to the Panamanian to take care of it for themselves. It was part of the contract for the Army men to leave as well. So slowly the American soldiers were leaving.
After a few days of searching, Ralph finally found a house where we could live. It was a great house. The memories of my month and a half stay in the house are of great numbers.
The house was huge. It had three rooms, two bathrooms, a living room, a dinning room, a kitchen, a garage, a backyard and the spacey driveway to the garage. I had never seen a garage before, at least the ones that the garage door lifts up to the top. It was something new for me but an exciting learning experience.
We got our things settled fast. I found out that the American girl who I had been friend with in Panama was also living in Oklahoma. It was so excited that I could finally speak to someone my age other than my brother Horacio.
My stepfather took us to my friend’s house, or his friend’s house. I didn't remember my friend too well, since when I met her I was really young and she had left a couple of years previously. I soon learned again that her name was Heather, and that she had a little sister called Brittany or Britney, I can’t quite remember the spelling.
Their father Stout, was Ralph’s friend. Their mother Connie also knew my mother from Panama so they soon became friends quickly.
I slept many nights at Heather’s house. I usually stayed in her room since she had the bigger bed. She had a big poster of Jonathan Taylor Thomas on her wall. I thought he was cute, so my love with JTT started.
Even though Heather’s family was white and mines was black, I never saw that it was a problem. Especially since I wasn’t really aware of our colors, and what they meant.
I saw Heather as my best friend, especially since she was the only one I had, besides her sister. Those nights I slept over her house were fun. We used to stay up late at night and watch movies. The Goosebumps movies used to make me scared then. She was the one that introduced me to American music.
American music, as I can remember wasn’t a great part in my life. I was so used to hearing songs in Spanish, or maybe hearing Jamaican reggae. At the time, I didn’t know that my favorite song “No Diggity” was made by a group named Blackstreet.
Every time that song used to be on I used to sing it loud with Heather, even though I really had no clue what they were saying, since I was just learning to speak English. In fact I didn’t even know how heather and I communicated, but I am sure it was mostly by hand gestures and signals to one another.
One time at their house we made ice cones. It had snowed at night so there was plenty of snow left in the backyard. All the snow was cleaned since it hadn’t been touch by anything or anybody. So Heather's mom took the snow from the top, and put it inside a container.
When we went back to the house, Heather's mom started to prepare the ice cones. She put all the snow in different cups. She put cool-aid on the snow. Then she finally put the sweeten milk on the snow. She gave one for each of us to eat. It was so delicious. It remembered me of Raspao, which is made similar in Panama, but we use ice and slowly cut the ice.
Heather’s mom worked at a pizza shop, other than home schooling Heather. She took us with her to her job. We had to get on the highway, or at least what I thought was a highway, to get to the pizza shop. Once we were there the town looked deserted. Everything looked a little old fashioned. The road as I can recall was made of dust and not cement or any other material except dust and rocks.
We went into the pizza shop and nobody was there. In fact I remember maybe one customer coming in while we were in there, and probably another worker there.
Connie made us a large pizza for Heather and I. I really enjoyed it because really for the first time I was eating pizza that wasn’t from Domino’s Pizza or from Pizza Hut.
The other times that I wasn’t at Heather’s, I was at my own house. My stepfather Ralph had to leave for an army recruit in another state, I believe it was North Carolina. So my brother, my mom and I were all by ourselves.
One night we heard the wind blowing very hard, we had heard from somebody that the house we lived in an Indian was killed there, or it was an Indian cemetery; I can’t quite remember the story. But we were scared. My mom went outside to check what was going on. The front door was opened. My mom was scared. She got me from my room, and got my brother from his room. She quickly took us to her room and locked the door. I think she didn't sleep that whole night, just to make sure we were safe.
While Ralph was gone we ran out of food. He had left my mom money to do food shopping, but there was a problem. We didn’t have a car. And Brookline wasn’t like New York City; you had to have a car. That was the only way to travel in that town. There were no buses, no trains, other than the cargo trains, and no taxi or cabs that I saw.
My mom was too proud to ask Connie or Stout to driver her to the supermarket because they had help her out enough. So my mom decided to walk to the supermarket.
The supermarket wasn’t close at all. We had to walk about half a mile or a mile. The problem wasn’t getting there, but returning home. My mom had bought a lot of groceries. I was only ten years old. My brother was just eight years old. My mom carried like four grocery bags, as we carried two each.
It was cold during that time, but it was also hot because of the sun. We struggled to carry those bags home. People were driving on the street looking at us like we were crazy. And not to mention, we were black.
While I was in Brookline, I never saw a black person, my mom said she did, but my eyes never saw one.
I was so embarrassed because we were the only people walking with grocery. One of the bags fell and in it there was a soy sauce, so it broke. When we got to the house, I was sure I didn't want to do that again.
Heather’s parents invited us to go with them to church. The last time we were in church was when we were in D.C. My mom agreed. So we went along with them to church. We got there late. We didn’t know exactly what to expect.
As we opened the door, my heart stopped. Flashes of the Ku Kux Klan entered my head. It was a white church! I wanted to get out running, and I saw it in my mom's eyes that she was scared.
Connie asked my mom if she wanted to leave and my mom said no.
Everybody in the church turned around as soon as we came in. All eyes were on us. I never felt so uncomfortable in my life! Even the preacher was looking at us.
We sat down towards the back. Even during the service people was staring at us. Some were even whispering about us.
When the service was over everyone stood up. Heather’s friend came up to her. She was talking to her being all preppy. Then there was the look. The look I was expecting. She gave me this look as in what-are-you-doing-here-black-girl? I looked back at her and rolled my eyes. That was the only thing I could do. I had to remember where I was.
We left that church in a hurry. Connie asked my mom another time if she wanted to return and my mom told her no.
One time after it had snowed, my brother and I went outside to play in the snow. We saw some kids playing on a sled, and they sledded down a hill. It looked like fun, but yet we never go to do it.
We used to see kids getting picked up by their school bus at the corner of our block. I pictured myself taking the bus to the school. How the school would be. How big it would be. What type of people would it have. How I would act once I went to school. And the thought scared me. What if I was the only black person in the school?
My mom made a decision to go to New York. My aunt Maye lives there. So we went and stayed over by her house. I passed my birthday in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn was totally different from Brookline, and I liked Brooklyn much better, but neither one was compared to Panama.
We returned to Brookline after a few weeks. My stepfather still hadn’t returned. My mom’s uncle convinced her to return to New York because she was alone in Oklahoma. So we went back to New York and stayed once again over my aunt’s.
Ever since then we have lived in Brooklyn. And now I remember the town in Oklahoma, named Brookline.


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