By Ama Anwar & Macaela Mackenzie
In the past several months, we would often talk about how our lives had been impacted by the pandemic. We bonded over our discussion of home and what it means to us.
Living in a New York apartment is a lesson in acoustics. You’d be amazed to learn how many sounds can easily sail 300 feet into the air, and straight into my 24th floor window.
This steel and glass jewel box is the place I dreamed of calling home. It felt distinctly “New York” when I picked up the keys, cold and electric. Home gave me two rooms with a dishwasher and central air. –Macaela
The crowded 8 am bus rides, noisy school lounges, transferring of train lines–the normal days ceased.
Home became a magical place that lifted years off my mind; with nowhere to rush off, my baby brother greets me, drawling “good morning” with a large grin.
I can breathe and simply enjoy the moment—whether that moment is my siblings bickering or the sizzling noises from the kitchen. While my days in quarantine might have felt the same, each one was filled with life. Home gave me years worth of memories and wisdom. –Ama
Growing up, “home” was a blurry idea. Shuttling between divorced parents meant I had two toothbrushes but no roots. So when I moved into my very first apartment, I wanted to make home a concrete thing, visible in sharp focus. I hung pictures on every inch of the walls, blue gobs of sticky tack pressed into the paint like gum. Home gave me a place to make memories of my own.
Now home is a place where I can put nails in my walls. A place where I am the center of gravity I’ve spent my life craving. Home gives me a place to build. –Macaela
In a world that questioned my identity, home was my safe place.
At school, there was no one quite like me.
I would receive questions about my henna; glares and stares; and occasionally, fear from my classmates. I—along with my culture and religion—didn’t feel welcome. I’d cry about the jokes kids made, and feel angry for not fitting in.
Home gave me a place where I felt accepted, a place of compassion and understanding, and a place where I had family who supported me: a girl with broken English and big dreams.
For the next four years, I hope home gives me a community that will welcome me with open arms. –Ama
Home today means a place that is permanent. A place where I can put my feet in the grass. –Macaela
To me, home is a place of comfort away from the busy streets of New York City. Home means waking up to the sounds of chatter and family around me. –Ama
Ama Anwar is a senior in high school and an incoming student at Columbia University. She has written editorials on digital media, minority affairs and climate change. Ama is the co-captain of her school’s Poetry and Creative Writing Club, which encourages students to submit to contests and exchange constructive feedback on their writing. She’s excited to have her work featured in the Girls Write Now anthology.
Macaela MacKenzie is a writer focusing on women's wellness and women's equality in sports. She's currently the senior health editor at Glamour but her work has appeared in outlets including Elle, Marie Claire, Forbes, Self and Women's Health. She's a first-year mentor and excited to be part of Girls Write Now.