Thursday, January 13, 2005

Flexing Charlie Brown Muscles

When I first moved into this small city I was the only one who didn’t know everyone. No matter where I went people where greeting one another, exclaiming surprise and proclaiming their friendship with joy and merriment. In the supermarket people hugged, at the Post Office smiles and news, getting a slice or picking up toothpaste reunions, rendezvous and surprises.

And black people, don’t even get me started on that. I was certain there was some kind of secret joyous conspiracy where every person of color would laugh, reunite or exchange a handshake simultaneously in each and every corner of the berg for hours on end every day. It seemed that I never saw a black person walk a straight line for the necessity of having to veer to this side for an embrace, that for a handshake, over there for a friendly toss of the index finger in acknowledgement.

I had no idea how anything was getting done. By the time one opened his eyes from the euphoria of recollection, there was another waiting just across the isle. And there I stood. Just me. Not a soul did I know. I mean, there was my room mate, a nice Canadian fella with impeccable manners, but should I try to compensate for all this joviality I seemed to be missing out on by overenthusiastically welcoming him home, he had to call his parents just to regain his bearings.

Last night and many, many months later I ate with neighbors. And there I found a soul quenching exchange filled with earnestness, good food and challenging insight. Words like friendship and camaraderie are but scanty threads of ideas which don’t even weave into appropriate description. When I came home another friend had left a message inquiring as to whether I’d be interested in watching a movie he rented, and as I walked down the street towards his house my good friend and Landlord Larry (a black guy) pulled over to share a few ideas.

It took a long time to sink in, but it happened before I knocked on Will’s door:

I’m a resident now. I Belong.

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