Snippets from the first month or so:
Walking along the highway-ish road the first day, a black man with bright purple hair (and shoes) speaking French to his young daughter who clutched a stuffed animal.
That was the second child that I’d seen walking along the street holding a stuffie. For some reason it struck me as different. That and the purple hair. I can still see them walking in front of me.
When I bothered to order a sandwich in my clumsy french, and the man at the restaurant spoke with me, slowly. A small and encouraging breakthrough.
There was this loud buzzing sound sometimes. I heard it when the patio doors were open. I asked my niece what it was, thinking of some power line type of issue.
Cicadas, she said.
Little moments of different.
The kids playing on the fenced-in, cement playground at the school on the (busy) corner, French-accent shouts bouncing off brick walls.
The brick seems to sharpen already bold soundscapes.
The way that the neighbors fighting sounds more like a play than a real thing. Maybe it’s the thicker walls, the fact that I don’t know them, the fact that it sounds more like drama than real problems…but I feel more removed, as if it is some sort of performance. My last neighbors were too close to home.
I couldn’t stand the fighting anymore.
The cab drivers are animated, chatty. Most people seem simultaneously more and less friendly…at least, less forced happiness. There’s flairs of charisma but it’s not vacant charm. It’s authentic and vibrant. No sugarcoats.
I feel like I’m in a movie—not acting in it, just watching characters.
The night I flew out was the night the man burned. I went to a party that I wasn’t invited to and watched that on a TV. Surreal, fitting…especially the way the screen separated us and the man, but also ourselves.
I had felt disconnect for a while and this was symbolic of a real distance that I’d been feeling for so long anyhow.
It was fitting of the shit that I’d shed, the new horizons that I couldn’t wait one more minute to miss. I didn’t idealize the other side at all; I knew it would come with it’s own set of imperfections and trials.
But first would come some semblance of clarity that I’d been craving for so long.