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Memories of Summer: Love and Family

11 hours spent cramped in the window seat with monotonous radio channels playing in the background. Despite the exhaustion and temporary trembles as the plane handles turbulence, I felt my heart beating with excitement. Another summer, another two months filled with museum ventures, castle exploring, and, of course, incredible food.

Every June, the plane lands in Frankfurt, Germany, where I can see my grandparents and other close relatives for the first time in a year. Within a few hours of my arrival time, a packed schedule takes over any wearisome jet lag. Mornings consist of my grandma's classic waffle breakfasts, with more food on the table than any of us can eat. Afternoons are spent wandering the city, eating waldmeister ice cream, or meeting friends in a bakery for Germany’s daily kaffee und kuchen ritual. We pass by beautiful clothing boutiques and follow the scent of bratwurst to decorated street vendors. My American travel habits slowly begin to adjust to the long walks and small streets. Later, we return to my grandparent’s apartment for evenings that consist of traditional Afghan food and Bundesliga soccer games.

Ever since I was old enough to be taken on a plane, this has been our family tradition. Every year I can’t wait for the afternoons spent with my grandmother in her kitchen. We laugh over our flawed communication, her teaching me Dari as I translate to English. I skim through her recipes as she shows me the right way to chop onions or fold dough when making aushak. Warm evenings consist of history lessons with my grandpa. He guides me through the Old Town, pointing out the opera house or town church as we pass by. We’ll enter an old wooden book store, him traveling to the English corner and I opposite as we search for new resources on understanding each other’s language and culture.

These traditions are what allow us to call each other family, no matter the distance or time zone, because when a hug can’t stretch across the ocean, we hold our love in the memories we have and will make, instead.

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