“During my second year of high school, I moved to Afghanistan. Which, by the way, is the worst time to do that in a kid’s life. If you wanna see what a rollercoaster teenager is like, move to a new city at the age of 15. It was a hellish nightmare for my parents, and for me too. But now that I’m looking back, I think it was a good idea, because at that age you really start shaping who you are. If that had not happened to me back then, I don’t know what kind of a person I would be right now.

On the other hand, it’s a little strange going back to Afghanistan now. For the first time ever it gives me a lot of anxiety. Not because of safety or security, that’s never been an issue for me. Things happen everywhere you go. It’s just that in my mind I have this perfectly imperfect image of Kabul, and I imagine it to be exactly the way I left it, but we know that’s impossible. Things are constantly changing, whether it’s for the worse or the better. Even if I go with the intention of going home, it’s not really gonna be home. My parents now live in a different city, in a different house, a lot of my friends are gone. I also know that emotionally it will be difficult to come to terms with some of the bad things. It’s a weird dynamic, because everything’s familiar, yet something feels off.”

Photo Courtesy of Eli Hwang