Friday, November 21, 2008

the making of me {chapter 6}

as i looked at s.mac he looked different. i couldn't quite put my finger on it. i was all covered in poop and oreos and felt suddenly sticky, everywhere, sticky.

man, what is with this airport, i thought, do they have misters or what.

that was my first taste of what we call HUMIDITY, folks. my dry rocky mountain skin and lifelong bloody noses had never experienced such a concept. and my hair, instantly my naturally wavy hair was set free, singing some sort of wild tune. and my make up. i was trying to keep up with it dripping off my face. s.mac thought i was tearing from the sight of his red head, but no, i was dripping maybelline, cover girl and other various assortments as a welcoming act.

then. we kissed. and i felt happy.

and i could see, "oh honey. what have you done to your hair?"

s.mac sheepishly looked at me and replied, "well, i was driving one night trying to find a great clips or a barber shop of some kind. i found this one on dixwell avenue, right by our house. it said 'barbershop' right on it. so i walked in and they said it was going to be $10.00, so i took a seat and let him cut away."

"the weird thing was," he continued, "i was the only white guy in there. the guy was asking me questions about school and i told him where i was going. he acted pretty shocked. i thought it was really weird considering the university had been in the town for over 300 years. so, he told me he was going to give me a nice haircut for the first day of school."

of course, that was our first discovery of the fact that new haven is a most diverse town. yes, this would be the first of many times we were the only white people in a crowd. s.mac had walked right smack into the heart of the african american part of town and walked into a "brothas" barber shop. they had shaved him some bangs and given him a nice haircut for a "brotha". not for an irish redhead. so he got some hair art, his sideburns all artistically shaped and such.

i almost can't control the giggles as i think of him walking into his class the first day all shaved up.

my wee little mind hadn't even thought of the division of a town. but there were italian, asian, african america, turkish, latino, european, middle eastern and student. yes, that's how the cultures were divided there. if you were a student then there were subcultures. sometimes it went by perhaps the forestry school, the public health school or the school of medicine. i will just say, that was our first taste of culture. can you imagine all these folks watching this white kid go into a barber shop in the center of the hood. i bet that was the only white head they had cut since barber school, obviously by the haircut he received. we had never crossed a cultural line here at the foot of the rocky mountains. we didn't even think about different hair types needing different hair shops.

but what's good for one. for instance, a time it was appropriate for a white kid to cross cultural barriers was when our home teacher and fellow neighbor, shane l., happened upon the oriental hair cutting station. yes, he had scored a home run. his hair was as thick as they come. he found his match with a sweet floor of orientals waiting to cut his thick, thick hair. it was right up their alley, and for $12.00 he got a cut and a head massage.

we drove home at sunset from the airport. i wasn't sure what to expect driving in new york city. i was thinking the plane would land right in the middle of manhattan and i would see the statue of liberty, empire state building and somehow be able to view the fallen remains of the twin towers. but i kept seeing alarming and decrepit buildings with people just sitting all around the porches and on the streets. kids running a muck and then my eyes lay hold of the street and exit signs claiming "bronx". oh mercy, i had heard of that before, yes. law and order and third watch often posed scenarios in those places. suddenly i felt uneasy and thought, what on earth have we done?

to my relief as we inched further out of new york state we drove past beautiful villages and quaint towns. once we hit connecticut i could see why martha could call it home. it was the most beautiful green, green everywhere. things growing over everywhere, the ocean right there, greeting me and inside my soul, something very peaceful came alive. that is when i first started to fall in love with an east coast ocean. the drive into connecticut had me falling deeper and deeper in love with grassy beaches, large ships at sea, port towns and every other romantic notion that comes with it.

also, apprehensive. very cautious.

s.mac pulled into new haven and i was wowed. i thought yale university would be in a fancy, manicured town. a very secluded and beautiful place.

it wasn't.

lots of transient people floating all over and around the most amazing architecture you have ever seen in america. buildings that looked straight from the 16th century with gothic and european influence, and transient people polluting everywhere. panhandling and such. wow. plus, it was pitch black. it was night time, although only 8 or so. i was shocked, i thought the sun stayed out late in the summer. i didn't take into account it might be different in another part of the country.

we were hungry. we didn't really know where a grocery store was or a food place. we stumbled on a pop's pizza place on howe street. looking back, it was a scary place. the parking was weird too. no places to park, anywhere. and the streets, tiny itty bitty. there were crazy drivers everywhere. at the point when s.mac came out of the pizza joint with a couple of slices i felt very, very far away from home. yes, indeed. we weren't in kansas anymore todo.


The Ballard's said...

I am in love.

The Gublers said...

Oh Heidi, this takes me back to 4 months ago, the very first day we came here, but I love it. Thank you for your advice and help!