The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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In this memory, my dad had only been in America for a couple months and barely spoke 10 words of English, and we were living in a really bad neighborhood. He was very tense for the majority of his first couple years in America, and this postcard shows a moment that really stood out to him looking back.

        The rain pummeled down on the creaky Septa bus as it made its way down West Chester Pike. Turn after turn, stop after stop, the bus driver spoke into his microphone announcing the next stop. Nali didn't understand a single word. He noticed that the route today looked foreign, not a single familiar sight had appeared thus far. Maybe the bus is taking a different route today, he thought to himself, knowing in the back of his mind he had gotten on the wrong bus and was lost. He didn't have much of a choice but to ride it out and hope he would eventually reach the correct drop off.

        Today had been a rough day, Nali had to work the grill all night alone, and clean up after the night was over. Before closing, he made a large pie to bring home to his toddler son and wife. He hated working late, knowing how unsafe the neighborhood was, knowing his family would sit and wait in fear every night until he made it home. He would often come home to his wife in tears, grateful to see it was indeed him walking through the door and not someone else.

        As the bus continued into the unknown, Nali knew for sure he was lost. He came to the conclusion his only choice was to wait until the last stop to get off at a big station, and then catch another bus home. It would’ve been a good plan if it was earlier, but he knew that there was a chance that buses might have stopped running by the time he reached the end of the trip. Nervous and cold, Nali could only imagine what his family back home was thinking.

        Finally, the bus pulled into the station, and Nali found himself going up to random people asking for direction as to which bus to take home. Large pizza in hand, and very broken English as his only form of communication, he found many people were not open to helping him out in the early morning hours. He approached a friendly looking old woman with a young child and explained his situation as best as he could. She eventually figured out what he was trying to explain and directed him to the right bus. She even went a step farther and paid for his ticket. He begged and begged her to take money or the pizza as a thank you, but she refused.

        Sitting on the bus that night, Nali reflected on his experience. Thanks to one kind lady, he would be able to make it home that night. If not for her, he thought, he would’ve spent the rest of that night at the bus station waiting for the first morning bus to take him home.

Lost in America

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2001
Upper Darby, PA

In this memory, my dad had only been in America for a couple months and barely spoke 10 words of English, and we were living in a really bad neighborhood. He was very tense for the majority of his first couple years in America, and this postcard shows a moment that really stood out to him looking back.

Decade: 2000s
Rating:
Recorded by Moreno Ndini on March 12, 2019
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