Growing up as an ethnic and religious minority in America, it has always been easy for me to list the hardships I faced. I could talk about all the clichés of being at crossroads with my identity; I could talk about how my whole life has been an attempt at diluting my Arabness to better fit who I am as an American. But when I think back to my childhood I can’t help but to think of all the nice things that came with being a religious and ethnic minority in America. The first thing that comes to mind are the loud dinners hosted by my aunts and uncles in their small American dream houses. The memories of me and my twenty-one other cousins cramming ourselves in our basements, fighting over seats on the sofa, playing cards, arguing, yelling, crying, and laughing until our stomachs hurt flood my mind. I remember everyone’s basement feeling like it was my own.
I remember spilling sodas and my cousins helping me hide from the adults so I wouldn’t get in trouble. I remember going through pages and pages of my notebook, drawing flowers and hearts and coloring with random pens I found lying around in my cousins’ rooms. I remember watching and rewatching the same VCR tapes over and over on my grandpa’s TV. I remember sitting around the basement on Thanksgiving reminiscing about our summers back in Syria. I remember picking out Eid outfits with my older cousins to wear to the mosque. I remember the sheet cakes from Costco that had all the names of the family members whose birthdays passed that month. I remember getting excited about new game consoles, and begging my older cousins to give me a turn on their Gameboy, or having Super Smash Bros tournaments on the GameCube. I remember being asked by grandma if I ate enough food, and then again by my aunt, and then again by my uncle, and of course then again by my mother. I remember all these things and I remember how happy they used to make me. Looking for lost treasure in our backyard with my little brother, being pushed on the swings by my older cousins, watching my first cousin graduate, and then everyone else after him. These are the things I remember most about my childhood; not the fact that my teachers couldn’t pronounce my last name, or that kids in my class commented on my parents’ accents.
What I remember most, is that when I didn’t feel like I had a community in the outside world, I had an amazing one at home. Thank you Samer, Ali, Makieh, Hasan, Rana, Motaz, Ayah, Issa, Judi, Yahya, Chehab, Reema, Alaa, Hamza, Mariam, Shireen, Ibraheem, Yousif, Hamoodie, and Yasmin for being my first and my life long friends.