Friday, May 18, 2007

Dazed Turning Left.

So my time at home has had its ups and downs. Frequently I am overwhelmed by the reality of our lives here and by the drastic change in terrain I am experiencing. Often I find myself wishing I could jump in my car and instead of driving along our luscious highway system, drive up the road from Guatemala City to Antigua and hide away in my favorite cafe instead of booting to Cariobou because its the only place in my hometown that's open past nine o'clock in the evening.

I spent the last 24 hours in Minneapolis, attempting to organize my life. It's working, but slowly. I've discovered that I still have a job at Barnes and Noble in the downtown area, and am interviewing tomorrow for a second job. I'm still homeless - but only for the summer. I was able to see my apartment for the fall and begin to organize myself and my decorating. I have options for a place to live this summer as well.. it's only a matter of choice at this point. But in reporting all of this to you, I'm realizing just how easily I've become to get caught up in our culture again. It's how I grew up, but in my return there are distinct actions I want to take differently. What a wonder this "culture shock" can be.

Yet, I'm sitting here in Caribou with my green tea and honey and my 14" ibookG4 and my journal and calander and all my ... stuff. And that in itself makes me remarkably and additionally sickeningly American. It matters not my nostalgia for the Spanish language and for fresh corn tortillas and black beans and eggs. My omellettes are back to egg beaters instead of real eggs, and my pan is greased with pam instead of real butter. While it feels wonderful to eat real vegetarian food again... it sometimes sickens me how many options we are allowed to have. Life would yeild significantly greater simplicity if we weren't to make so many choices daily. I don't want just a latte.. I'd like a triple, grande, sugar-free vanilla, soy latte. That was my phrase. And now I've returned and its not even good. Just give me black coffee please.

I believe one of the greatest moments that exemplified my new ignorance and awe at my own culture was driving today. However, I forewarn you that explaining this seems to make no impact or sense to anyone I've encountered thus far. I was getting off the freeway, waiting to make a left hand turn into the outlet mall today at around two. The turn light turned green and the silver Honda Accord ahead of me proceeded to wait another twenty seconds or so. Not wanting to miss the light, I politely tapped my horn for her attention. Apparently that's not an okay thing to do here. Following her through the intersection, she turned right into the next driveway, but slowed her car enough to let me pass her before making her turn. Looking to my right, she flicked her middle finger into the air and while I couldn't hear her, her mouth proceeded to make the words "fuck" and "you."

Taken aback by her intense anger, I was confused and not sure how to react. Though an angered response never stirred in me, I was left perplexed by this individual's ability to curse a complete stranger.

Forgive me, though, I should have prefaced this with the use of the horn in Guatemala. It's a liberal kind of idea, and never intended to insult. It offers an alert if someone is pulling up a little too close or not particularily paying great attention to the flow of traffic. A little toot into the air is accurate and normal and often just says hello. And a longer blast implies "Hello!" "Pay attention!" But never Fuck you. Ever.

Perhaps I was wrong in my transitionary state to have used my horn, but was it necessary for this complete stranger to go the extent to which she did to let me know I had pissed her off? Maybe she was having a bad day, but I couldn't break the urge to leave a note on her car, apologizing or explaining that I was in culture shock and had no intent of stirring anger or rudeness and so on and so forth. Additionally I had wanted to talk to her. But she had completely disappeared after I emerged from the gap a half an hour later.

In the long run of this story, my feelings have nothing to do with this peer of mine and her car. I feel more apalled by the ignorance this event has implied.

Perhaps I'm making blank assumptions, and yes I know the rhyme. However, if and individual is driving a shiny Honda, chances are you're doing alright. We were both headed for the outlet mall. Regardless of whether you are running an errand or out for an afternoon, you're still on a joy ride (myself included). And whether assumed or not, this deduction can generally be accepted because the majority of the United States is comprised hard working, educated, middle classed individuals who can afford to buy clothing at the gap. We're educated. In fact, we're required to be so by our government. We should kiss our constitution for that. We have to go to school as small children and never have the chance to work for our family's keep as a young person. It's forbidden by law to put young rigor to physical labor. We gripe about road construction, but we are not in a place where our roads are closed without reason for hours at a time. We are able to travel 70 miles and back in a couple of hours instead of a day. I am amazed, still, at the efficiency of our country. We are not in a place where a trip to the bank can easily last two hours, and often an individual does not accomplish all they need to in a visit. Usually their answers are given to them without logical reasons. I remain marveling at all the things a person can flush down a toilet here. We throw our paper and it just goes away, it dissaparates. No one sees the waste it actually produces each time you use the bathroom.

So try to worry less, because there are so many pieces of life that we will never be able to call hard in the scheme of the world. Breathe a little more and take more time. We're all rushing, rushing to get ahead, to finish school that semester early. But of what are we getting ahead? We're all stressed and disastisfied, but look around. Please.