When I was five years old, I used to like to look out of the window of my family’s tiny, half-dilapidated apartment. Being on the second floor, I could see many roofs from my window, and watching the familiar scenery from above was somehow different and exciting to me.

Every day, when I was on my own, I stood by the window and observed what was happening outside. Mostly, what I saw was the same thing day after another. There was a row of storage right below, then a row of old cherry trees, then a street, then a row of shopfronts. After that, there were rows and rows of roofs, and far down, I could see one tower sticking out of the sea of roofs.

That year, one of my friends and her family went to live in America for a year since her father’s job required him to go there. The morning they left, my family and all my other friends and their families stood near the entrance of our community and saw them off as they got on a taxi. “They are going to America,” my mother told me. “Where is it?” “It’s a country far away across the ocean.”

I remember being very impressed. I didn’t really understand the whereabout of this country called America, but I figured that it must be very far away since I would not be able to visit her for the next year.

As I stood by the window and watched the rows of roofs every day, I often thought of my friend who was now in America. Then I would try to look as far as I could from my window. At the end of my sight was the tower sticking out of the sea of roofs. And I would spend a long time staring at the tower, wondering if America was even further than where that tower was.