I’ve been here in Barranquilla for over a month and a half now. So many times I’ve thought “I need to write. I need to record my thoughts and my feelings so that they don’t just disappear into the air...” That’s really what this “blog” is. A chance to voice some of my inner thoughts. To not lose sight of me as I’m walking…
I don’t recognize the girl that came to Colombia a year and a half ago. I can see her in my memory; I can step back into her body and see those moments/days through her eyes, but she’s strange to me. I’m not her anymore. I’ve changed and I’m not sure how. What’s different now? When I think of her, she has such a simple view of things. Uncomplicated. That girl had already experienced a lot, but she hadn’t seen into the depth of her soul. The experiences of the last year and a half have showed her a lot more about herself, others, and the world. And converted her into me. I wouldn’t go back and undo the change. I could wish that I could undo the hurt I’ve felt and I’ve caused, but…I needed it. It hasn’t damaged me (as I feared that it would). If it left a scar, it serves as a reminder of a lesson learned. My only hope is that what I’ve learned will one day allow me to comfort someone else who needs it.
We tend to always think that we are the exception. It’s a silly trick that youth plays on all the young. We observe others messing up, making mistakes, and we think that we would never do that. We think that we’re smarter, wiser, more experienced, more self-controlled, disciplined, you-name-it, we’re different. And then life shows us that we’re just as capable of extreme stupidity as the next guy.
Pause. Breathe. Reflect.
Two phrases caught my eye today: One was the marketing phrase for a plastic surgery center. Below the picture of a perfectly shaped women, it read “Dare to be happy!” The second was the headline of a local sensationalist newspaper: “They killed him for his cellphone.” I’ve been here a year and a half and that’s not the first time that I read about someone being killed for something small (the last time it was a baseball hat). Should I be getting used to it? Is that what’s supposed to happen? What is this world?
But it doesn't matter really, because I'm too busy to do anything about it. My work is crazy. I’m at the school about 60 hours a week and when I go home I keep working: planning, correcting, scheduling, trying desperately to give things some kind of order. I never imagined that a teaching job would demand so much from me. It’s been good because it’s given my life more structure, something that it’s been missing since I stopped being a volunteer and started being a renegade. :)
After much delay, my master’s classes started on Friday. There are 12 students in the program. Classes are from 5pm-9pm on Fridays and from 8am-6pm on Saturdays. The first unit is called The Philosophy of Social Sciences and it’s taught by an enthusiastic philosophy professor who reminds me of a friend from Cartagena. Identical. Except that one is 30 years older than the other, 1 foot shorter, and he doesn’t have the other’s characteristic clown smile. The class consists of 24 hours of lecture followed by 12 hours of student presentations. Our grade for the class is based on a final essay and a 1-hour presentation. Good luck Micah. You just might need it…
I just had an interesting conversation with an elderly man in the coffee-shop where I’m sitting to write this. His nationality: “citizen of the world.” His accent: European. His features: Scandinavian. His name: Ricardo Julio Caballero Villa. It was a great conversation. He’s an artist and draws for different magazines and newspapers around the world. The last thing he shared with me was both the simplest and the most shaking: “I was talking to my granddaughter in France and she said to me 'Grampa, you’re an immigrant in this world. I’m a native.'" She was referring to technology. She was born into it; it’s been part of her experience since she entered this world. He hasn’t. His existence was different, and now he has to assimilate. Although he was laughing, tears brimmed in his eyes, “It’s like the final scene from Planet of the Apes," he told me. "The main character goes back to earth and finds it completely changed and falls to his knees and screams at the heavens. When my granddaughter said that to me, I felt like that. I realized that my world is gone.” I didn't know how to respond.
He’s not the only immigrant in this world. And it’s not just time or place that makes us immigrants…
Acepto que no entiendo todo lo que pasa en el mundo. Solo quisiera entender mas de lo que pasa en mí.
(I accept that I don’t understand everything that happens in the world. I just wish I understood more of what happens in me)
-hanging out the door of the bus in the early morning, the wind in my grinning face
-laying down in a grassy park in the sunshine
-dipping my finger into the jar of peanut butter
-dancing down the sidewalk with my earphones in, conscious that I look silly and delighted that I don’t care
-being with a family