Just before arriving in New York as a graduate student, I was consumed by Harry Potter novels, which describe a boy seizing his chance at a life in an alternate universe with its own realities and its own customs and history. What is valued in the old world is not necessarily appreciated in the new world, and vice versa. Novels such as The Hobbit, His Dark Materials, Chronicles of Narnia, and Coraline, in which characters travel to imaginary worlds where time and reality flow differently, resonate with me, perhaps because moving to another country involves bold changes in every aspect of life—geography, climate, architecture, customs, language, and even time.
The physician is becoming increasingly frustrated and, now, nervous. Fearing a negative outcome, the physician presents my mother with a waiver stating she is declining the C-section. My mother apprehensively, yet confidently, signs it. This is my signal. Amid the screams of my mother, my head decides to finally make an appearance. I am welcomed into the world with a blue body and noose around my neck. My mother declares her victory over “modern” medicine. Within minutes, she is holding me in her arms, and our brown eyes meet for the first time.
When I was a little kid, I thought my uncle was hysterical. He told no jokes, but he didn’t treat me like a kid, either. He was always a problem for the rest of the family. At one point, my mother told me, “If people in suits come looking for your uncle, you don’t know where he lives.” Actually, he lived down the block. My uncle always had a job but never seemed to be working.