I stumbled off the Light Rail onto Lake Street sometime after my flight from Dar Es Salam. I had on a beach dress and some beaded sandals, and a woman suggested that I put on socks. I was still in East Africa, toe nails drenched in a deep orange henna. Zanzibar sand had crept into my backpack, and kinyarwandan phrases were attacking my American English. A man on the Light Rail stared at my oversized backpack. "Hope you don't topple over girl! It's cold today." I met Minneapolis with an unsure smile. The air stung my skin, even after changing into jeans and a t-shirt. My friends were celebrating, because it was April, and they hadn't come into contact with this much heat since October.
The first night, I went to the 2011 Voltage fashion show. I took a taxi, and the driver asked me if we could go back to the coast together. He had a brother living in Dar. It seemed like a possibility. I got out, tipped him, and bought a ticket to the show.
Raul, who serves as both a third or fourth mother to me and a dear friend, was sewing for weeks to finish his Spring line for the show. I appreciate the gay spectacle that fashion provokes. It was also nice to see the productive side of Raul, in addition to the Raul that spends too much time watching Mexican telenovelas in bed.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Back in the South. Right now, I'm sitting in my apartment in downtown Birmingham. The city is silent. Pedestrian-less at 10:49 pm. It's a Friday night, and I can't shake the coffee in my blood. The train just howled. The trains barrel past me everyday during my seven o'clock jogs. There is a new park that I love to talk about, Railroad Park. It's freshly manicured sporting baby trees and sprinklers. And if you dare walk to the park in the late night, you will hear a guard shout, "park's closed." This park is patrolled at all hours of the night and day. Security cameras and golf carts chase away hobos and hooligans. I love to do push-ups in the evening after a jog. I met a medic in the park just yesterday. She was quiet, but she wasn't shy. She had muscular arms and a half-smile. "It is what it is," she told me. That's how I feel about Birmingham. I could go on about how hot it gets at 2 in the afternoon, or the fact that the bus stops are as well thought out as my plans for this morning. This morning I planned on visiting a farm to trade labor for some vegetables. The rain stormed in on the city, a much welcomed surprise. A friend and I decided to meet for coffee and Mexican food. The spinach burrito. Corn chips. Watery Salsa. Watery Margarita. We laughed and told stories. We were interrupted by a woman that appreciated our banter so much that she waltzed over to the booth and said, "If y'all had any more fun, you'd be arrested for it." Immediately, a woman in the booth behind us turned around and said, "I love the South because people just say whatever they want to say." Now, as this excited us, we decided that we couldn't end our fun, and decided to go to the movies. Not only did we get free popcorn, we arrived right on time for the afternoon showing of a new comedy. The chairs were very comfortable. After laughing in a comfortable chair for over an hour, I felt a new sensation. I couldn't believe all of the amenities offered in one morning. I felt like a winner on the Price is Right. A showcase winner. This is Birmingham, my birmingham. my beautiful birmingham. my boisterous birm. my heavenly ham. my intelligent ing. my bir ming and ham. Bir, Ming, and Ham. A thirtieth century Bible story. Three siblings that wanted to kill eachother, but were inspired by the teachings of Raul, a tailor. They changed their ways and decided to drink lemonade together.