Sunday, August 16, 2009

culture clash

Four airplane flights and a week of work under my belt, I'm starting to see how this might work over the next couple of months. The pace I'd expected and the entire thing is a blessing beyond words, being able to come back to my old life while in an entirely different capacity still feels familiar. I am in an amusing position, being brought in by The Boss to work on Special Projects, an out of the box type assignment that has the regular boxers on some sort of alert. But I am happy for it not only because of the work but because the special projects are for my old community, tackling the same problems from a different angle with hopefully some success.

I join the masses on the downward plunge on the midday elevator, groups of people fleeing incubation for the street. Every day I feel near hysterical in a manageable sort of way because this whole thing is so bizarre to me and I will never understand the culture of this type of place. Once the doors open and I'm out in the sun I inevitably stop and tilt my face towards the sky. I am here and I am not here and it creates an invisible barrier, my months of jungle village stay with me as I manage not to become swayed by the creatively lit restaurants and fast cars. Cubicles. I am not here for this.

I am walking down the street when I see him, he's manning the corner with his cup and his sign and I see the folks before me swerve around him as they go. As I approach I slow down and he shakes his cup at me and I start to laugh which gets his attention so he actually looks at me and breaks out in a grin. Girl! Where you been? and I tell him and we talk for a minute about how things are still rough and how there is still hope. I want to talk to him more, I want to bring him into one of those restaurants and buy him lunch and really hear how he's doing and catch up not only on the street but the heart, the news on who has found a place and who's been locked up, the cycle of poverty hasn't skipped a beat.

I tell him as much and he is in agreement. I want to hear all about this crazy jungle thing and next time bring pictures of your kid he says so we agree that next week I'll find him and we'll go have some lunch and he smiles broadly and he gives me a hug.

And in that moment I am back all the way, amidst the suits and the blackberries and the well stocked stores and the high speed connections I found my soul and I'll savor it, as I walk away I feel more sprightly as if all of a sudden the ground I am walking on makes a little sense after all.

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14 comments:

flutter said...

Your soul is ever present.

painted maypole said...

the ground makes sense when you are grounded.

Amber said...

I'm glad you found yourself in the old / new place. And that it's all making sense.

hgg said...

what a great moment, thanks for sharing!

Magpie said...

this is what it's about.

meno said...

This is why you are here, and there.

Kim said...

I love you.

Omaha Mama said...

My B calls that her happy thought feeling. She can't ever describe it, but it's there. It's like that. And I love it. :0)

Ally said...

Lovely, Jen.

krista said...

fuck, jen. this one killed me. i'm sobbing like a baby. (or at least like my baby that woke me up not so long ago.)
you know what it is?
it's that you are one of the few. you live in the space between what people perceive and project and you ride bareback on that fine line where we all connect as human. i don't even know what the air smells like from there but i am so fucking grateful to have you describing it to me. i feel blessed.
(oh, and sorry for the language. i'm just all emotional here at three in the morning after dealing with a toddler who got scared shitless when i went in to soothe her and did not want my touch.)

Kyla said...

You may not belong in the cubicle world, but you belong in his world...most definitely.

joker the lurcher said...

mrs jen, you always make me feel better.

Gina said...

I love this post - it embodies everything I adore about you.

Hetha said...

Gina summed up my feelings exactly. I've been getting caught up here and it brings back so many memories for me. I lived in Africa for a bit and was in much more culture shock upon returning to the U.S. than upon arriving in Africa. It's hard to take, I know. Your light continues to shine bright dear woman.