In a parallel universe, I never moved. I was never born outside of my passport country. I was born in Islamabad, Pakistan, where my family is from, and I lived there my entire life. The following post is written under this perspective.
In a parallel universe, my mother-tongue is Urdu. I read, write, and speak it Fluently. I speak it better than any other language. Even some of my blog posts are written in Urdu.
In a parallel universe, I cook chapli kebabs, lamb biryanni, murghi ka salaan, keema, fish tikka, and bunhawa ghosht on the regular, instead of being Chipotle's numer one fan.
In a parallel universe, I fell in love with a Pakistani boy (because we all know that, even in a parallel universe, I would never settle for an arranged marriage). My parents approve, and, at 25, I'm already engaged and planning my wedding.
In a parallel universe, I'm feeling sad, because I know soon I will be moving away from my parents and the house I grew up in to live somewhere "foreign" - my fiance's parent's home.
In a parallel universe, I drive like a lunatic and honk my horn every minute, creating a beautiful song with it, because that's the norm in Pakistan.
In a parallel universe, the friends I grew up with, went to school with, went to college with, went to graduate school with, etc. all live in the same city as me, and I complain about them being a 30-minute drive away because that seems too far.
In a parallel universe, my mother never knows what sadness feels like, because her children never leave her side.
In a parallel universe, my father dreams of the "American Dream", and wishes he somehow could have sent his children to the U.S. for their studies, not realizing how wonderful of a life we have all lived in Pakistan.
In a parallel universe, the most scandalous thing I've ever done is went on a date with a boy to a local fancy, foreign restaurant.
In a parallel universe, I have two or three kittens as pets, and maybe even a parrot.
In a parallel universe, I fantasize about living abroad for a year.
In a parallel universe, I spend hours before my cousins' shaadis practicing dances for their mendhi, because I live just a few minutes away from them.
In a parallel universe, I think salwar kameez is way comfier than jeans and a t-shirt.
In a parallel universe, I never miss my brothers or my parents, because we live together, or at least nearby to each other.
In a parallel universe, my best friend is, at most, in another city, not in another continent.
In a parallel universe (in Pakistan), my hair is usually down, not up in a tight bun and hidden away under a scarf, because I don't have to prove to anyone what a "normal Muslim" is like. They already know, because they are all (or most of them) normal Muslims.
In a parallel universe, I dream of living alone somewhere abroad, in my own little one-bedroom apartment with a gorgeous balcony, driving a cute Honda Civic, and having all the freedom in the universe, instead of being stuck at my parents' house.
In a parallel universe, when someone asks me where I'm from, I don't have to think about it or give them a rehearsed paragraph response. I just simply say, "Islamabad".
In a parallel universe, I procrastinated doing my "work" work by writing on my blog about how, in a parallel universe, I was born abroad, lived in ten cities, five countries, and three continents by the time I was 25, and lived the life of a TCK.