We spent another day in the microcosm of the world called Clarkston, GA, and finished the day GA 1920s Paris. I read somewhere that Clarkston is the most diverse town in America. Almost half of its population is foreign-born and I would guess that 90% of those are refugees.
I love being in a different culture. For me, even this small apartment in east Atlanta is another world. I want to kiss on the cheek the right number of times , take off my shoes is the right homes and make appropriate hand gestures. I don’t mind being a crazy American lady, but I enjoy the challenge of learning to be fluent in a new culture. I think sometimes my attempts to assimilate and fit in, end up with the opposite effect. I know they wash their babies after a dirty diaper so said I needed to change the babies diaper and acted like I expected to leave the room. I reasoned they may find it offensive to change a little girl in front of everyone, so it was safest just to follow. They asked if I needed the bathroom and so I said yes and then they offered to fill up the butt washing watering can for me but I declined and showed them the wipes. Maybe changing her on the bathroom floor was the right thing to do, or maybe they were thinking why this crazy American lady insists on changing her baby in the bathroom. Who knows?
The combination of cultures in Clarkston can cause quite a few misunderstandings, some quite serious. Three kids were subjects of a police search all night long only to discover they were in neighbors house.
A neighbor found the children playing with her children around 10 p.m. Thursday night. The neighbor took the three children into her apartment and planned to reunite them Friday morning. The neighbor did not hear the police activity.
Some cultures let their little kids play in the park right outside their front door. Other cultures are more village oriented and let neighbor kids just sleep over without thought of anyone worrying.
Our Afghan friends seemed to think both of these other cultural practices were crazy. Their adorable kids never seem to be very far away.
As always, time there seems luxoriously slow.
It’s not that they do nothing. The mother spends three hours washing clothes by hand several days a week. (Someone just donated a washer and dryer so those days will soon be in the past) I think it’s slower and romantic to me because it doesn’t even feel like my real world.
The real world has a lot of messy, busy, yucky, and bad thrown in with all the beauty, but another world can be ideal.
Which brings me to ending my day in 1920s Paris. We watched Midnight in Paris tonight about a man who walks the streets of Paris each night and ends up in his ideal time of the 1920s, until one day he realizes that everyone idealizes another time, because the ideal past doesn’t have the uncomfortable realness of the present.
Clarkston is my escape. It is my 1920s Paris. It is a different world where my mind can be consumed with the present and drinking tea, communicating and observing are the only things that fill my mind and all else fades away into a reality that is somewhere else.