I get massive culture shock when I come here after a long time somewhere else. In Boulder we complain about the lack of diversity but I’ll admit, when I come here I am overwhelmed by the diversity. My folks now live in a neighborhood in Queens that is mostly Korean and hispanic, a little Indian, some Polish and Russian. It’s powerful to notice how used I have gotten to being around other white americans. And how much—as bad as it sounds—I have come to rely on it. The ability to communicate simply with strangers, not having to guess whether they speak the same language. Not ever really having to feel like an outsider. It is isolating. But it is good, healthy to feel like an outsider once in a while I think. It floods me with feeling like bringing new life into my blood.
Another shock—but a more pleasant one—is the simplicity of life within this tiny one-bedroom railroad apartment. No washer/dryer, dishwasher, no shiny new appliances, and because it is so small the folks keep furnishings and other belongings to a minimum. Hand-washing cloth diapers has become my contemplative practice. Actually, I love this aspect of the move. The more time I have on my hands due to convenience-oriented time-saving appliances and practices, the more empty and meaningless activities begin to clutter my life. There is an unmatched quality of contentedness that I feel as I do things—like cook or clean—to care for myself, my family, and the environment we inhabit. It makes my mind quiet and this is really the only prize worth going after.
So, a note about my intention for this blog: primarily this is a way for me to feel connected to my beautiful friends with whom I no longer share the same town. Oddly, telling you about my life and my thoughts makes me feel closer to you, even with no reciprocal sharing. But for structure’s sake, I intend to write mainly about my effort to stay connected to the great mother whilst living in the big city. Coming back here really did feel like going back to Babylon, and it is something I never planned to do in my life. But here’s to doing what we have to do, what we never planned, and, as my dear friend Rasa put it,
let it eat you; let it grow you.