I remember a blue door that was once red...or was it a red door that was once blue? Apartment 187 had two bedrooms, one bathroom, nine people, and a million cockroaches. When we turned on the kitchen light in the middle of the night, they scattered across the yellow linoleum floor, their short, little legs working hard to get to safety. They were just trying to survive, I guess. Like us.
He had come to ask me about my refugee experience—an assignment for one of his classes—and I’m always willing to share, but afterwards, there was a lingering taste of discomfort in my mouth. Although I hope that I had given this student perspective in some small way, I couldn’t help but feel like maybe I wasn’t refugee enough to be interviewed. Like maybe I wasn’t even refugee enough to defend being a refugee.
I’m weird. At least that’s the message I get from “normal” people when I start talking about Lord of the Rings, X-Files, Star Wars, The Matrix, Fringe, Star Trek, Avatar, Stardust, Babylon 5, Farscape, Battlestar Galactica, Game of Thrones. Even Harry Potter sometimes. They either roll their eyes or make an UGH noise or both and start to turn away. What they don’t understand is that my obsession with science fiction and fantasy is what informs my conceptual and creative thinking. And it’s science fiction that helped me to create the one reflection activity you’ve probably never done before.
Once, during my freshman year of college, a friend and I decided to take the bus home—my first venture into public transportation. We caught the bus at the transit center downtown, climbed in like kids going on a field trip and made our way down the aisle to the middle. The seats were hard on our butts, but neither of us complained because we were in air conditioning. We watched people get on and get off and on and off. The light above the bus driver’s seat flashed and I heard the ding that signaled him to pull the bus over, but for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how this was happening. In the end, my friend and just watched our street pass by. We sat there as the bus took us all the way back to the transit center, where the driver parked it with a lurch and stepped out for his break. Then we quietly got out off and walked home. Neither of us spoke up, neither of us asked for help, and to this day I still don’t know why.