A Hoosier Homecoming

Reflections from my family trip to Indiana

Farid Alsabeh
8 min readAug 12, 2022


The bridge leading to downtown Columbus, the city where I lived during the second half of my life in Indiana.

The United States offers foreign-educated doctors a nice deal. Spend a couple of years practicing in a physician-scarce area, and they’ll put you on a fast-track to citizenship. My dad, a graduate of the University of Damascus medical school and an aspiring American citizen, eagerly accepted this offer.

And so it happened that, in 1997, I was born in a small town in Indiana, the newest resident of a community which had benefitted from the federally-authorized services of an immigrant.

We moved from Indiana to the Detroit area when I was ten years old, and my family hasn’t been back since. But over the years, we often exchanged stories from this first part of our family’s life. Last week, we went back on a ‘nostalgia trip’, spending most of our time touring long-forgotten sights — reminiscing and recollecting.

Distortions of size

The first thing I noticed as we visited old shops, parks, and neighborhoods, was that they all appeared to be hit with a shrink-ray. Everywhere I went, there was a striking sense that things had become smaller, which was enough to literally stop me in my tracks on several occasions.

The first — and most conspicuous — example came when we passed by a certain stone turtle. This turtle, the central fixture of a local park, had been a frequent source of amusement for me and my sister. Passing by it now, I was amazed by how small it actually was, given that I had the following memory:

I’m climbing up the shell of a stone turtle, and my arm stretches out in front of me. I fall back slightly, skimming my knee on the concrete neck, and I start to bleed.

This turtle’s summit was, at one point in my life, much harder to reach.

Another example came at the local community center. What I remembered as a vast and sprawling play area revealed itself to be pretty modest, and although some modifications had since been made, my parents assured me that my misperception wasn’t due to any actual changes to its size.