Friday, April 16, 2010

The zoo. Literal and figurative.

Today I met up with Mary and her husband and little boy.  I've been ecstatic to meet them.  We had a few switch-its and cancellations and finally managed to meet up at the zoo at 10:30 this morning.  She's been in America less than 2 months - came over with her little boy to re-join her husband - and had been living in Kenya as a Sudanese refugee.

Going there today, I had some notion that I was helping.  She's new to the country, so I want to help her make friends and learn the area.  Get them set up with a zoo membership so they can go whenever they want.

And then I met her.  And was reminded for the billionth time in my life that persons will always manage to defy categorizations or expectations.

She was polished and regal and gorgeous as a supermodel.  Beautifully dressed.  Poised and not a  bit frazzled.  Her son was freakishly adorable and social and fabulous.  I, on the other hand, had day-old hair that I was pleased to have combed, a rumpled white t-shirt I pulled out of the laundry pile, and 2 overtired children who weren't that hot on the zoo.

My son was wearing a backwards shirt.  Long-sleeved, no less, and it was EIGHTY SIX degrees out.   When I introduced Andrew to their 3-year-old, Andrew just looked sullen and stared without saying anything.  I think he was overheating from his shirt and hungry and whatever...but still.  It wasn't awesome.

I had this vision that I was helping to welcome her to the country, and I can't imagine she didn't do a once-over on me and think: "Oh no, is this what an American mom looks like?"  My children throwing banana peels all over the stroller, and I couldn't find any cash in my purse for the train ride.

When I grow up, I want to be elegant.  And on time.  Not one OR the other.  I was pleased as punch to have managed to make it there 5 minutes early.  We were ON TIME!  I had food and water for them, they were clothed, we were set.  Jack was dropped off at Coop with his last-minute poster and a complete lunch. Major accomplishments had happened already.  But in doing so, we had to move into survival mode.  And I'm not one bit elegant in survival mode.

Oh, and I was wearing those super dorky sunglasses that I only wear when I can't find another pair.  Sheesh, I'd forgotten about that until now.

And last but not least, I am about the most socially awkward person I've ever met, when you're just meeting me.  No one has ever come clean about how awkward I was the first time they met me, but I can assure you that they came away thinking: "Dude, she is a weirdo. And she stammers a lot."

So Mary's cordial welcome into our country is from a stained-shirt, dorky-glasses-wearing, socially awkward mess of a mother who has crabby children.

Welcome to America.

And you know what I loved instantly about Mary and her family?  They were just happy I was there.  I didn't sense even a bit of judgment about my state of being, they  just showed pure appreciation for my presence.  I liked that about them.  No, I loved that about them.  I love being in the presence of persons who just look past the frazzled outer layer and see what's below that...knowing that I truly cared about them and really wanted to be there. 

Hopefully, I'll be invited out for a second date.

1 comment:

Your Husband Steve said...

Eric Estrada called and he wants his Chips sunglasses back.