9– Short Stories From A Busy Man

My Host Family: A Brief Introduction

My Younger-oldest Host Sister

I have found joy in showing her some of my favorite music. Mostly because my taste in music isn’t quite popular and yet she still enjoys it. I prefer folky tunes, soft voices, and deep lyrics; luckily I now know she does too. Every so often we huddle around my laptop share my earbuds and delve into the music.

It all started on a night we lost power. We sat there at our kitchen table, illuminated by a single candle stick, with my laptop and a speaker (thanks, Hilary I’m using it a lot). I remember just how badly I wanted to take a shower. I was sticky and I imagine I was smelly, if my nose worked better I would have known for certain. However, we sat there listening to a slew of songs that I had previously downloaded. After and sometimes in the middle of each song we would talk about specific lines in the song. About how the artist wanted that line to convey. We talked about the feelings that came with the line. But most importantly if she liked the song. I in no way wanted this to be an English lesson but, I guess in a way it was. Although the power is now more regular, we still find time to examine music.

Tonight, I went off my often indie and folk playlist and ventured towards old Maroon 5; it was a success. After she showed me a few of her favorite Turkish songs because “they have the best sad songs.” And although they were in a language neither of us understood it didn’t matter because “you could hear their pain.” I felt the obligatory need to show her “Happy” by Pharrell Williams to lighten our slightly gloomy mood.

To date, the night we lost power is still one of my favorite memories in Kosovo.

My Host Brother

I used to be damn good at video games. I can no longer proudly say what I’m about to say, but, I’ll say it anyway: When I was in high school I played from the moment I got home from school to about midnight every day. I easily hit my 10,000 hours and would be considered by Malcolm Gladwell as an expert at video games. Okay, I realize how dumb that sounded and that although I tried not to sound proud of those facts, because they are truly embarrassing, I am in some way unable to hide my inner gamer.

My little brother just got an Xbox 360 which just so happened to be the same system that I without a doubt played over 10,000 hours on. The day we went to pick it up from a relative’s house I remember holding the controller in my hand and getting flashbacks to individual moments in my past when a controller much like it was in my hands. That one time I and my best friend stayed up for four hours trying to beat the hardest mission only to receptively fail and end up in a fistfight. The time a friend broke one of my games and I had to quickly learn the lesson of acting like I was okay when I really was anything but. Wow, I’m really not helping to further myself from that gamer that I once was.

I have found that a very easy way to connect with my host brother is by reconnecting with my youth. Sitting down and playing Call of Duty. Playing those same hard missions that once caused my headaches and watching him react much like I did when I wanted to give up. In those moments I see a small me in him, and I laugh a little inside.

Playing Xbox is an art that I have yet to forget but the other day he beat me in a wrestling game and in that moment I knew I was getting rusty.

My Youngest Host Sister

The one who I can speak to the least because until like the older ones, she doesn’t speak any English. However, I feel like I connect with her the most. Although many would argue that language is necessary for a deeper understanding, we seem to understand each other quite well.

She’s the kind of soul that is quite a rarity. She has this infectious joy that carries and echoes even long after she leaves the room (Madison in many ways she reminds me of you). I can confidently say that I have yet to see her mad and I’m starting to think she’s incapable of being so.

Since she’s just beginning her English language studies in school, it will be some time until she’s at a level to comfortably speak with me. Having the ability to communicate better with her is a great deal of my motivation for more quickly learning this ever so difficult language. Yesterday, I sat down with her in attempt to teach her a few phrases. I suppose I’m not that great of a teacher because she didn’t remember them today. But, nonetheless, I will keep trying to teach her a little more. I sat there with my imaginary microphone “holding” it in front of myself as I spoke and then placed it before her. Her laugh made it easier to continue on even after we sat there for what seemed like the entire night.

I can’t wait to better say the things I’ve been wanting to. To better connect with my entire host family better.

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