15 August 2011
In the Baby's Gaze
New keys coming and going on my key ring. Learning security codes and lock-up procedures that I won't need this time next week.
Being introduced to people who are "neighbors" to you and "strangers" to me. Struggling to formulate a response when they ask "Where are you from?" or "Where do you live?" [Note: That isn't true. I don't struggle. I pull out my old standby: "The Earth is my home."]
Cooking less and eating simpler because I'm negotiating someone else's kitchen, i.e., "Where do they keep their spatula?" vs letting the apple and granola bar in my backpack be dinner tonight.
Talking less because most of the humans around me are in a hurry on their way to their usual places...and I am passing through at a decidedly more leisurely pace. There just doesn't seem to be enough time to say everything we need to say. So we say little.
And talking more because stories about travel and new places and new things always seem to take longer to tell. And I always seem to be drinking wine or Cosmopolitans while telling the story.
There are momentary lapses in geographic orientation. Some mornings I wake up and for a full 5 seconds have no idea where I am. It's a very trippy feeling....
There's also the incomplete familiarity of driving down a street, in a town where I once lived, but unable to find my way to Point A, B or C from where I am. Ten years ago I could have driven the route with my eyes closed. Or, perhaps I did, which is why I can't find my way today.
My lifestyle is nomadic again and I am feeling like Sojourner. Feeling somewhat how I felt when I started this blog. For one thing, sojourning still brings out the "reporter" in me. I become very observant and want to share my observations.
Earlier today, I stopped for gas at a station I used a lot last year. The cashier on duty was familiar to me. She is a middle-aged blonde woman who has always seemed sullen and impatient. Today, she seemed different when I went in to leave my debit card as security on a fill-up. When I returned to retrieve the card, she was absolutely beaming.
Making full-on eye contact and wearing a big smile, she asked "Have you seen "The Help"?
"No," I replied. "I read the book last year. Have you seen it?"
"Oh, yes!" she was bubbly now. "It's great. I loved it. I saw it with my girlfriends. Go see it! It's great."
"Well, I'm half-hearing the controversy... I know there's quite a bit of controversy surrounding it..."
"Oh, pi-shaww!" She handed me my receipt and made a dismissive gesture. "Just go see it. It's great."
Day before yesterday, a forwarded email offered links I could follow for "a Black perspective" on 'The Help'. I did not follow any of the links.
Two or three times in the week before, Black friends confiding about current struggles in their lives pointed to how White people contributed to their hardship. Each time the conversation turned that way, it felt like I was entering a lucid dream. Like I could see and hear things but knew my fingers would pass right through if I tried to touch or grasp anything.
I've experienced some thought and feeling reaction to recent "race talk" and the social buzz in the air around the film "The Help" (which is just more masked--or unmasked--"race talk").
But nothing lasted long enough to trigger a blog post. The thoughts and feelings didn't gain traction in my mind and pretty quickly floated away. Forgotten until the next mention of the movie or some other race-tinged comment by friends or media.
Today "disinterested" seemed like the right word. I am not interested enough in my thoughts and feelings about race and racism and etc. to share them with the world through this blog. I am disinterested.
But when I did a Google Image search on "disinterested" --thinking I would blog about my disinterest -- I did not like the results. The faces in these pics looked sad or pissed or bored or repulsed. None of those faces looked like my face.
I stood before the mirror in this room where I slept for the first time last night. I thought about race and racism and media and controversy and I stared at my face. I watched my face while I thought about race and racism and media and controversy.
It was my eyes that my eyes kept returning to. What's in those eyes, I asked myself. What is that look?
The words "baby's gaze" came to mind.
So I Googled "baby's gaze."
Sojourning...with a baby's gaze.
That is the practice.
posted at 7:48 PM