because none of us is fucking up like we think we are, is what i'm trying to say

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Talking in Tongues


"Can you tell me where the library is?" a woman with a funny accent yelled to me as I left my apartment building. "I'm lost."

I walked down the path to her. "Urm, sure. But it is sort of complicated so why don't you I show you? I'm going that way anyway," I told her.

(Sidenote: when I text Mama this story she replied with, HAVEN'T I TAUGHT YOU ANYTHING?! DON'T GO OFF WITH STRANGERS!)

(She presumes the worst in me because when I was eighteen and went to Sri Lanka by myself to work in an orphanage I left my rucksack with a man who seemed very friendly when I went off to the loo, and when I got back he had gone. My dad's camera, three hundred dollars and my dignity were in that bag. In that same trip, the amma of the orphanage asked me to bring home a package that a previous volunteer had been sent but missed, so I did. When mum found out she freaked BECAUSE IT COULD HAVE BEEN DRUGS AND I COULD HAVE COME OF AGE IN A SRI LANKAN PRISON AND BEEN RAPED BY POLICE GUARDS AND BEEN FORCED TO SING MADONNA SONGS FOR CIGARETTE MONEY AND AND DIDN'T I HAVE ANY SENSE? At which point I asked who had been stupid enough to let their eighteen year old get a credit card, buy a plane ticket to Colombo and THEN look up Sri Lanka in an atlas. She relented.)


So I am walking through the university campus with this woman who I have to strain a bit to listen to because she puts the emphasis on wrong words so that her sentences sound all discombobulated. And just before we part our separate ways she says to me, "So where are you from?"

"The U.K." I tell her, and she tells me that she too, is British by birth. "I came here thirty years ago to work with horses and never left," she told me, and then she told me the name of the village she is from: a village ONE MILE from where I've been living in for the past eighteen months. "No way!" I told her, genuinely surprised to come all the way to Eastern Michigan just to find a stranger from my home. "It's a small, small world."

And as she nodded her head, agreed with my sentiment and walked away, I couldn't help but think to myself, Damn. I hope I never end up sounding like THAT though. 
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