Monday, September 19, 2005

Born Again

Living here has been like being born all over again in some ways. I've had to learn to speak in a new language, interact with different gestures and norms, drive differently, cook differently. Even hold my fork differently!

There is usually no point looking for compassion or understanding when it starts to overwhelm me. . . (no ex-pat community here!) If I try to explain stuff from my prior life, I am likely to sound crazy or arrogant. Really, can you imagine having to do any of these things?
* Justify stopping at a red traffic light? Or slowing down for a pedestrian or cyclist?
* Beg for no-smoking zone in a restaurant? Or that friends not smoke in your house?
* Insist that employees wash their hands (with soap!) before handling food to be served raw?
* Show your passport or national ID to use a credit card or check into a hotel?
* Answer the question, "Where are YOU from?" every time you open your mouth?
* Cheerfully sample a friend's homemade garlic-flavored beef nerve jelly? (that was this afternoon's test!)

I can see more clearly now that much of my life experiences have been channeled by my socialization and culturalization. Sometimes I wonder just how much of that early formation one can let go of before one completely loses one's mind. . . . I mean, if I drop all those filters and blinds, I run the risk of being assaulted from all sides by meaningless input. And this is at least a culture with European roots. . . I can't imagine what it would be like were I to find myself in Afghanistan or Bali (tho' I'd rather find myself in the latter than the former).

Most of all I like sitting under a eucaluptus or any tree here, listening to the doves and birds-by-other-names cooing and chattering. . . that's when I feel most at home, aside from when in Roberto's embrace. Imagine--these could even be some of the robins or swallows that keep company with my friends up north! And the wind in the trees might be the same breeze that reaches them and everyone else, just as it is the same moonlight and sunlight we enjoy. Something very comforting in all that!

1 comment:

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