I logged into Weather Underground this morning for a quick view of what the days are going to be like in Ashland for my long weekend stay. Years ago I’d pinned four frequently looked at cities to the WU menu.
There along with home town San Francisco, destination Ashland, and ancestral home of Middleborough is Kayseri, Turkey.
Four years ago I’d put Kayseri on my dashboard so I could easily find out what the weather was like for the then-21-year-old gay refugee I talked with almost daily on Skype. He’d escaped with his life from Iran into Turkey where he was made to live in a small rural town until the US government decided he was safe to let into our country.
He wasn’t allowed to work while waiting, and the winters in Turkey were harsh. He wouldn’t complain, but he’d mention sometimes that it was pretty cold. I’d glance at the Weather Underground screen to find out how cold… how snowy. The Guardian Group of my church sent a little bit of money via Western Union a few times so he could buy heating oil for him and his roommates. Weather Underground let me know when I should push to find out if they needed more oil.
It was difficult to hear the man’s stories and worries on Skype. His wait to get into the country seemed endless, and we were not at all sure that the eventual outcome would be positive. Those were heartbreaking conversations.
This morning Kayseri was mild. Way too warm to snow. But, it doesn’t matter. Our Iranian man is taking a full course load at junior college here in California. He’s financially independent (but still a poor college student). And, he’s plagued by the wretched insecurities of “normal” American 20-year-olds: he’s too ugly to ever date, too stupid to ever make a enough money, and too far behind his “normal” peers. In short, he’s a growing, vulnerable young man finding himself in his new country.
I am grateful for this TBT reminder I think Ill keep Kayseri on my cities list so that I don’t ever forget the horrible feeling of powerlessness I felt trying to help that young man.