24 September 2011 § 2 Comments
never look away. they’ll think you’re weak. you’re a novelty, a foreigner, a gringo. ‘exotic’ comes to mind. someone said that a few days ago. you didn’t believe it. the central market wit hthe rotten fish and the pickpockets made you a believer. did you see the way she looked at you? I checked your vitals, because you were busy basking in the sunlight. I don’t know how your heart stayed in your chest. calm down, for fuck’s sake. it’s only your first day.
Seth and I stood in the concrete park as darkness fell. it stopped about fifty feet above us. A kid lauched a spinning rainbow toy into the air. It’s a distraction, I suggested. The red-noseless clown was in on it.
The two americanos were the only ones looking up. He kept telling me “you’re right.” Everything I said. “You’re right. I never thought of it like that. You’re right.”
No, I’m not right. I just ask Why. I want to know. And when I can’t find out (or haven’t the courage or vocabulary), I watch the irony of the drug deal right behind the backs of the four policia, the metaphor, the wife-beatered butch girl with the cigarette butt, burning to her fingers – she glared at something above all of us, for entire minutes, fixed gaze – and the happiness of the girl with the dreadlocked teenager (he must have been growing those at ten years old!), and the third wheel. Her friend. Make her feel included. Skaters with two ice cream cones apiece. I bet, I said, on a roll with my observations and suggestions, if you were looking for weed, you might find it easily here. A group of metalheads passed around a cigarette. The clown skulked off. The kid kept launching the pink spinning thing into the air. “You’re right,” Seth said again.
I don’t want to be right. I want people to open their eyes. To look at the reasons why certain things happen. To watch people of another culture interact with one another. What’s going on between the couple on the bench, who are obviously together (they exchange words and knowing glances – or oblivious ones) but mostly ignore one another, far preferring the comfort of a cell phone screen to human eyes?
Get a new perspective. Yours isn’t the only one, I wanted to tell him. Don’t listen to me – I don’t know anything. Think for yourself, but think with intent to learn. You’ll never have another chance at this moment. Jump into it. Go back to that store, and talk to the girl who just ran out after you to see what you shoe size was.
He told me he would. I wondered if I’d do the same.
Tomorrow we’re headed to the top of a volcano. After that, I’ll meet my host family, of whose existence I’ve only a vague idea right now – names and ages, and even then, I only remember highlights.
School begins on Monday. I’m in a new country. Traveling with a purpose. Education. Learning a language, a culture. I’m done with the a-town-a-day travel, cityhopping. I don’t like who I am when I do that. I just like the events, and only in retrospect.
Here, I get to live life presently. Now, I feel like the me that’s been banging at my ribcage for a year and a half.
At least, that’s what Trader thinks.