Life’s polarity is kicking me in the face .
This website is a tangible product of my wild swings from center. From the middle of the spectrum, to one (perceivable) end and the other. Middle class America by way of debt. Food on the table, roof over the heads with borrowed money. Upper education by way of borrowed money. Buying into the system, unaware of consequences at eighteen.
In the red before I know what it means. Happy, comfortable, working jobs to pay for “myself”. Career counselor visits. Insistence that I want to “help” before I truly understand the complexities. Privilege seeping out of me in ways I cannot fathom until now.
Fast forward a few years, stumble upon a lifestyle that affords months off and necessitates leaving due to lack of employment. Manageable despite my debt. Cheaper to fly out of the country. Cheaper to live out of a few bags. On a few dollars. On rice, on fruit from the stand, on borrowed land.Shit in toilets that most I know would call a “hole”. Discover rashes and bites that most I know would call “go to the hospital”. Learn a language that most I know would call “simple, but useless”. Revel in every little thing. The mundane to them, intricate to me. The norm to them, exotic and foreign to my eyes and ears.
Find commonalities and connections in humans that my government calls “ Muslim radicals”. Force-fed fear, all of us. There – it’s food. Subsidized rice. Their rice from their land flies across an ocean, sold to those with tiled bathrooms and money to spend. Dirt floors, woven walls, one room where the rice from the government boils. It tastes like shit they say. Theirs is better.
Force-fed fear, all of us. Here, it’s the belief that we’re better. The belief that WE have figured it out. WE know. Safety by way of war. Security by way of money. Structure by way of lobbying capitalism and democracy across the world with our eyes closed.
Who’s to say what’s better? Who’s to say what’s worse?
There are days where I don’t think of them at all, my friends and extended family in far away places. Atolls and villages barely registered on a map. Exponential growth most likely changed the landscape dramatically. Infrastructure lacking, only decades, maybe years, before collapse and hopefully, renewal.
There are days where it consumes me. My ability to come into their lives as an observer, a participant, yet bow out when my time runs out. No need to look up white woman privilege, here it is.
We’d joke “let’s switch!” as we surfed, as we made food together, smashing tomatoes and chillies. Both parties convinced the other way of life is more desirable. They wanted Obama for a president. They wanted capitalism. They wanted expendable income to travel. I wanted the freedom I saw in their daily lives. The communal. The simple. The abundance of natural resources. (Let’s be real – the waves, too).
I check in on them once in a while. Broken english Facebook messages, my awful memory of their native language marring my ability to communicate. Kids are growing. Taller than ever now. Missing each other.
That’s just it. In all of this.
One true thing.
Missing each other.