A new kind of art: ours.
As a teen growing up in rural North Carolina, I’d wanted to read stories that had something in them for me; a person who was curious about ‘the other’. I didn’t find them. I got into a residential high school, a magnet school in a bigger city, but even there, I felt a lack. Unless it was through an academic lens, I could not find much on the shelves of libraries pertaining to the arts and cultures and people and feelings of those who were… different. Then, at 23, I read Tagore’s Gitanjali. This was in India. I had gone there after saving up from my first job, in order to spend quality time with my grandparents. To listen. An aunt loaned Gitanjali to me, saying, ‘You are a poet.’ This was what I had been missing: I had no idea, how could I have known?, just how much I was starving for exactly this kind of art.
The discovery started me on a lifelong track to go and seek the new and the different, no matter how far I had to venture. I wanted to pick up pieces of everywhere, things I felt truly resonated with me. So it began. What if I could personally go and meet people in new (to me) places, see what their lives were like, befriend one or two, get to build trust and try, if not perfectly, but try, to hear and see the way they were hearing and seeing?
Some highlights: a mother and her daughter teaching me the word ‘mielenrauha’ as the sun set slowly in northern Finland; the post-post modern vibe of Gen X songs blasting over speakers in bars and ‘eateries’ in Riga; and falling into a border-closure circumstance to find a balmy solitude, quite utterly, in Saigon, where after 20 months studying by osmosis, I could communicate in bad puns. (Dajare, unpunny, but similar vibe, when I’m in Japan).
S P A C E. Is where. I record the highlights. Without ads. Without sponsors. Without agenda. In a new issue, every week.
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