...I cannot think of a happier time in my life than when my family lived in apartment 1626, the one with the shaggy forest green carpet and the playground behind the building. Yes, we were poor, but so was the Latvian family next door, the Korean family downstairs, and the Iranian and Indonesian families in the next building whose daughters roller-skated with my sister. There was never a desire for things when I was that age. Who needed things when your dad would take breaks from writing his dissertation to play Digger tournaments on the ancient IBM, or your mom would let you insert the quarters at the laundromat down the street?

I am Sri Lankan, albeit a Sri Lankan born in East Lansing, Michigan. My island is something I crave daily, so when I have the chance to visit, I gorge myself on all that is uniquely Sri Lankan: three-wheelers maneuvering around buses and cows, card games until dawn with my cousins, the smell. Words do not do the aroma of Sri Lanka justice; it is a mixture of jasmine, overripe mangoes, curry powder, the ocean, diesel fumes, and a few unknown elements. Sometimes during the summer when the evenings are still humid, I can smell Sri Lanka, so I stay in one spot and inhale deeply and it smells like love.

And I love! I love the anticipation of snow days. I love the sky in Montana, the color orange, and the feeling of completion that comes with finding the precise word to describe an emotion. I love oddly shaped animals, like giraffes and jellyfish. I love when people tell me I look like my mom, the sound of a cello, and the sighs my cat emits when he is sleeping in the sunlight. I love magic tricks even more after the trick is revealed...

Searching for another file led me to the essay I wrote for my application to the University of Chicago four years ago. I chose to respond to the prompt inspired by Langston Hughes, probably because it was the most self-involved of them all. In retrospect, I have no clue how this got me in. The rest of the essay is similarly irritating and poorly-written.

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