Sunday, June 1, 2008

Lonely Inside for "Different"

Written outside just a few minutes ago, listening to Chris Spheeris:
I'm lonely inside for "different", and for the me introduced by "strange" -- new scents, altered vistas, foreign tongues, that combination which lures a transitioned Toni to the fore -- how I observe, or participate, my efforts to interact, my smiles or focused eyes -- learning, learning, and willing. I'm a good traveler -- minus expectations and large on acceptance, & I fully comprehend that any changes required are of ME. It's not my language = so learn the word(s). It's not my cuisine = so eat what I've never eaten before! It's not my culture = so adjust my behavior. Move slowly, listen far far more than speak, always know how to say 'please' and 'thank you'. So simple, really. Find the older ones, sitting alone in the square, and sit down. Erase all notions of itineraries, of must or should, and let the place and people reveal themselves. Put the camera down and interact, engage, become a PART of what I otherwise might just observe and/or photograph -- then I'm an element of the memory and not just the recorder of other people's activity. LET MY RESPONSES SHOW!!! The inhalations, the tears, the unreserved laughter, the awe. Genuineness dissolves every single barrier, warms hearts, creates a bond. I started crying in Certaldo, Italy, the first time I went, just overwhelmed -- it was so intimate, so quiet, so resonant with history, & so bright with red geraniums on every sill and porch, the air so yellow-gold & welcoming, that I couldn't take another step or breath. I sat down next to an elderly woman on her stoop -- she gestured at me to do so, seeing my tears, and after I'd sat she pointed at my tears. I, in turn, waved my hand at -- the place! The street, the buildings, the view, the flowers, herself -- and then she smiled and just patted my hand for as long as my eyes flowed, which was quite some time. When I finally rose, having to go meet the group at the bus, I thanked her (in Italian: "Mille grazie, Signora, mille grazie" with tears starting again), and she took my hand in both of hers and shook and shook my hand. I didn't hide, and that warmed her. Consequently we shared a personal, real moment. It's a singular memory I have of that trip, and I was PART of it, it's not a photograph or something I described in my journal (until much much later). I'm 'in the picture', do you see what I mean? That's the way I travel. I remember her difficulty getting down her tiny little stair and settled into her chair. I remember her black lace shawl, something clearly handmade and much-loved. I remember the bend of her hands - arthritis, perhaps? I remember standing with tears pouring out of my face, just frozen in place & my heart in ten million perfect fragments of response, and how she waved and waved me over to sit by her. I remember that the grip of both her hands around mine felt stronger than she looked capable of, and that her smile went through her eyes and wrinkled her entire face, every wrinkle her life had given her smiled at me. Yes, I'm lonely for that kind of 'different' inside, a surprise connection in a small corner of a world not mine which makes it mine, after all.


Carla said...

Toni, Toni. You amaze me, thanks for sharing this. It made my eyes burn-in a good way.