Someone else’s shoes

Chapter 1 - leaving kosovo

My cousin Sami was the first person in our family to make his way to the United States. We all lived through the terrible Kosovo War in the 1990s and our parents pushed us to achieve our best and make a better life. Sami was always one of the smartest people in school, and was desperate for a better life.

Sami applied for a special US State Department scholarship to pay for a year studying in the United States. He received an acceptance letter on a very special day: 11 June 1999. It was his 18th birthday, his high school graduation and most importantly the day the war ended. It was a rather fortuitous moment---the entire family nervously gathered to open the letter, and bells started ringing to celebrate the new peace the second he had announced the good news.

We were all so sad to see Sami leave us for a year. Even though I was quite young, I remember his mother crying after he slipped through security at the airport for his flight to a new life.

When Sami arrived at San Francisco International Airport his host family was looking for the newest member of their family. They had received extensive training from the State Department about Sami because he was one of the first exchange students from Kosovo after the war. Looking for an eighteen year old, they almost missed Sami because he was so small for his age. At 5'7 and 120 pounds he looked more like a freshman than a high school graduate. Once they connected, it was clear that he would be a great fit for the family.

His host family lived in a small town on the Pacific coast called Pacifica. Famous for its beautiful beach and easygoing culture the family had a great lifestyle with a small town community near a big city. The host father Marco worked in the local firehouse, and the host mother Jenny was a teacher in a high school. They had two fraternal siblings who were seniors and about the same age as Sami. The entire family lived for three things: basketball, bowling and food. Both parents volunteered as coaches for the high school basketball team.

Sami shared a room with the son Craig. Craig was "big man on campus" as a result of his status as the star forward on the men's basketball team. At 6'4 and 240 pounds he fit the role, and was loved by the whole school community. Sami felt a little intimated by having a roommate who was twice his size, but it too just moments for him to realize that Craig was a nice guy with a heart of gold.

Allison was the bubbly personality of the family. Although she played both basketball and volleyball, she still managed to find time to be the President of the Senior class. Standing a full six feet tall, she was shorter than her mother and was lovingly teased by Craig for being a stick because she she was super skinny at just 140 pounds.

The family wanted him to experience all that California has to offer, so they stopped at In-N-Out Burger during the drive home from the airport. Sami expected to have the very long line, but was quite surprised that no one felt that the restaurant would run out of food. Sami already felt a little insecure about his size, and wanted to fit in with he family. Marco asked Sami what he wanted for lunch, and he replied whatever Craig is having. Craig wanted his usual In-N-Out lunch which was a 4x4 sandwich, fries and a chocolate milkshake. While the food was getting ready, Allison walked across the parking lot with Jenny who remarked to her that Craig was not going to tease her about being the skinny one anymore. They bought a half dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts to eat while the In-N-Out was getting ready.

When the ladies returned with doughnuts, Sami was thrilled thinking that they were the best thing he had ever tasted. Feeling a little full having eaten a doughnut, he was surprised when their number was called five minutes later and Craig brought back their lunch. Picking up the 4x4 he was surprised by the weight of the sandwich featuring one pound of hamburger. The entire family sat down at a table outside and began enjoying their lunch. Desperate to fit in, Sami forced himself to eat the entire meal. Allison was pretty impressed thinking that he would not be so skinny for very long if he could keep up the pace.

Driving down the hill to Pacifica, Sami felt a little ill because he was so full. Once they reached the house, he was brought up to the room he would share with Craig. Still painfully stuffed, and suffering from jet lag he almost immediately fell into a deep sleep.

A few hours later Allison woke him up for dinner. Craig and Allison had just come back from the gym where they were lifting weights to build the muscle that would keep them from injury once the season started. The table had a healthy post-workout meal with several rotisserie chickens, quinoa, salad and some pasta. Fortunately for Sami the jet lag gave him enough of an appetite to enjoy what was a tasty first homemade meal in California. After eating almost half a chicken, and some pasta he was ready to watch some American television before heading back to sleep. After Craig, Allison and Sami sat down to watch The Simpsons Jen returned with a pint of their favorite ice cream Phish Food for Craig and Chocolate Cookie Dough for Allison. Sami was surprised that they would have dessert, and said he would be happy with Phish Food.
5 chapters, created 9 years
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GrowingLoveH... 9 years
Lovely story! I think you write very well.
BIGKevDawg 9 years
Im lovin the start and can't wait to read on more, keep up the good work!