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Friday Night Lights

By Zoya Zia

I remember being 10 and out of place. A small brown girl in a small Texas town. Not that it kept me from seeking the world before and beyond me, delineated by man-made borders and unruly divisions. I knew I stuck out, but I navigated with the resolve of an experienced sailor, charting my course.

I remember being 10, not trick-or-treating on Halloween like my classmates, who ran about in their close-knit American daydreams. Despite risking further alienation, I chose to spend the autumn evening at the local high school football game, spectating a showdown of epic proportions for central Texas. Towns divided stood united in the stands, holding onto cups of hot chocolate to keep warm. What was it I sought that cool October night? A semblance of familiarity? Collective effervescence?

And what of winter in London, over a decade later and several worlds away? A small brown girl in a big city, at once new and old. The Shard shoots purple light into the night sky as the Tower of London shadows ominously. On a quiet Friday, crossing the Thames yet again, my mind suddenly returns to Tiger Stadium, Halloween 2007.

These long, dreary days, football games look entirely different. Communities kept apart for their well-being, athletes left to play for themselves and their love of the sport.

Friday night lights have dimmed in Texas and around the world. As I nostalgically think back to times I never thought I would daydream about, least of all while living in London, I ponder whether I was in the right place all along. Intimately, I narrated my journey, one that led me to a new country in the middle of a global pandemic. Sailing in uncharted waters, I carry a resolve years in the making and remaking, pursuing a light of my own.

From Pakistan and the American Southwest, Zoya is an MSc Human Rights and Politics student at the LSE. She received her BA in International Relations at the University of Texas at Austin and conducted research on minority rights in Mexico City and Bangkok. Outside of these interests, she enjoys green tea, poetry and Spurs basketball.

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