I stared at my email, speechless

I was accepted to a five year PhD program, with full tuition, monthly stipend, summer salary and rental subsidy in Manhattan. A new life, in New York City, was waiting for me. I had to get a passport, a visa, a plane ticket, then tell my family that I was leaving, and fight, what I thought back then, one last battle. I had tried to follow the path they wanted for me but I failed miserably. My heart was set on freedom and I couldn’t let go of my dream. It was my dream that wiped my tears and soothed me to sleep on countless nights. My brother threatened to tear my passport. I hid it and checked on it everyday. I was marking the nights, counting down.

I did not sleep that last night. Behind me was an insanely intense life. A war, a missile that took my hair, a very religious and conservative family, two fiancés, a full time job, a masters degree in math, and a veil. Ahead of me was a dream come true, without the noise. The type of noise that makes you never know who you truly are.

The plane took off at 8:00 am, first to Paris, then to New York. As it ascended to the sky, I gazed back at our gorgeous Lebanese mountains, and the Mediterranean, and told myself to get a really good look and imprint that beauty in my heart, because I will never come back.

I arrived in the States with four thousand dollars and two bags. I was 23, different, hopeful, carrying a weight I had not come to terms with, and little did I know, at the time, all the lives that were to follow, and change, soon afterwards.

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