As we walked, passing small stores, people’s shadows and Nigerian men selling coach bags on the streets, we realized that Camila had been crying for about twenty minutes. Her chapped lips were making a big slanted “o” and saliva running down her chin, her eyes squinting at the sun and her skin turning a light shade of pink as if someone had put blush all over her small arms . As we walked, trying to ignore the three-year-old crying we noticed how everyone around us had thick accents. Somehow, I felt as if I walking in an ocean of bold “r’s” and invisible “s’s”. And in one way or another, I felt as if this was my ocean.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
Most Americans go to New York at least once in their life time. New York is one of those places that people love, but rather live in some other city. Like many, this is wasn’t my first time walking the streets of Manhattan, but it was my first time falling in love with the sounds of New York.
My dad looked at his watch, then at my mom. Consequently, she reached into her purse and took out her wallet. As she handed to him forty dollars, my dad said, “Winy, you are coming with me.” Obediently, I began walking behind him. He walked, carefully shoving people that passed in front of him and entered a small coffee shop. He looked around, and I realized that people didn’t stop. Unlike us, they didn’t “look around” and were ordering food as fast as they talked. Since my dad can’t read English, he asked me to read him the posters that hanged on the walls. After reading every single word that the posters contained, he told me to order five tuna sandwiches and five waters. As I approached the back of the store, I stared at the woman standing behind the counter. Her eyes were deep and dark with brown coffee-like skin surrounding them. She opened her mouth to confirm the order and a beautiful “Zanquo” filled my ears. At the same time a woman with curly hair and pale, white skin yelled at her son on the phone. Her words new and virgin to my ears slapped my understanding of the English language.
This was my ocean, my “r’s” belonged here were they could blend with all the others vowels that came out of people’s mouth. After this experience in a small coffee shop in Manhattan, I realized that I was part of their world. The soothing, yet fast moving ocean that brought people from over the world was a place I wanted to live in. A place where each different person had a different sound and a different way of pronunciating words. My thick Peruvian accent could easily mix with the rest of the phrases that flowed around us.
The small three day vacation helped me understand that New York was abundant and different. New York was a place for me, a place for those who have a different voice and sound.
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