Embracing Change: Settling Down and Growing Up in California
Written by R. E.
Privacy, adaptability, sharing, rebuilding, embracing. These are the traits and abilities I had to acquire at a young age as I moved from country to country with my family. It seemed that everywhere we moved our neighbourhoods reflected each other. They were safe and mostly middle class, but if you walked a little further you would find yourself in a lower class region.
My story begins in Cairo my birthplace, where I lived with my parents and two older siblings in a small apartment located in the neighborhood of Giza. The apartment had two rooms, a bathroom, a small kitchen and living space. The bathroom was painted baby blue, it had a baby blue sink and a baby blue toilet, it was an odd decor and it reflected the rest of the apartment, which was compact with vintage furniture and a big chunky TV located in the coroner. The bedroom, which I shared with my siblings, was very simple it had one closet and two queen-sized beds. Across the street there was a mosque, and when it was time to pray the mosque speakers would play the prayers loud throughout the neighborhood, it was calming and gave the community a unified feel.
At the age of four my dad got a job as a computer programmer in the U.S, so we packed our things and moved to Minnesota leaving behind all our relatives. Once again awaiting us there was a small apartment 2 rooms, a bathroom, a small kitchen and living space. I don’t remember much about the details of this home because we didn’t stay long there, but what I do remember was the building’s pool. In the winter I would float on my back and watch the snow fall gently on the glass dome which covered it. This was my first time experiencing snow and it excited me, so less than a year later when my dad told us we were moving again I was sad to leave the white winter behind. Little did I know that I would experience snow again later in life.
It was the spring of 1999 when we arrived in Los Angeles; we were picked up by a company limo and driven to our new home. I stared outside the window as we approached a big gate that read “The Promenade.” Walking in the first thing I spotted was a pool surrounded by palm trees and beach chairs, I remember my dad looking down at me with a big smile and saying, “I told you there would be a pool.”
But that wasn’t the only thing this three level-gated condominium had. That day exploring with my siblings we found a park, two hot tubs, and a gym. Even though our apartment was small and consisted of two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a small kitchen and living space, I loved this home and everything about it. For the next five years this home became the site of many memories, it was where I met my best friend, had my first pet, where I learned how to ride a bike, swim with out floats, and swing on a swing set. There was always something to do and some place to explore within the promenade, so I always felt safe roaming around on my own within the gates. Our apartment was on the first floor so I never used the front door; it was easier to just hop out the balcony to get to the pool and park quicker.
October 30th, 2000 my little brother was born adding one more body in an already crowded apartment. His crib stayed in my parent’s room until he was old enough to share the bedroom with the rest of us. It was definitely not easy sharing a room with three siblings. We had only one T.V in the corner of the room which we fought over constantly, and we had two bunk beds in the shape of an “L.” I remember being able to hop from the top of one bunk bed to the other; the room looked like a jungle gym, and some how it never seemed to be a problem. The warm California weather always kept us outside, so fights over the T.V, the lights being on, or music being played, seemed to just happen at night when only some of us were ready for bed. Privacy became an issue the older we got, especially because we were different genders. I wondered If my dad eventually planned to move us to a bigger home but those plans didn’t matter anyways because came summer of 2005 we were packing again and headed to the airport, this time to Canada where I would learn again to adapt, embrace, and rebuild in a new home.
R. E. was born in Egypt, raised in California, and settled down in Mississauga at the age of 10. She is an open-minded student who loves to meet new people and learn about different cultures.