We were sitting in one of my favorite coffee shops just around the corner from my place. My new friend E and I had decided to hang out for the second time to just process and catch up. This means, the realm of making new friends, this is about the time you talk about where you come from on a deeper level. You have already asked which city you come from and what you like to do in your free time but this meeting is about talking about what the day has been like, what will it hold, perhaps about how many siblings and what it is like and perhaps if you are lucky and this will be someone that you can see a longer friendship with….a bit of dreams and reflections perk up here…
Or at least this is what it seems like as I start to make new friends here and there. There are the people that I happen to bump into and maybe laugh with for a moment. We might even add each other on facebook.
There are a few people that I have met with for coffee and as we walk away I think we both know that that was that. I bumped into one of those the other day. We hugged and said niceties but then she asked me my name. She had totally forgotten it.
There are the people that you know that if you could just figure out how to schedule time it would be great but on the other hand it shouldn’t be that hard to make time if you want this person to be a friend.
There are those people who you hit it off with right away and start texting almost immediately and it’s easy to schedule and you both make it work and there is a clear understanding that yeah, this will work as a friendship.
There is the neighbor upstairs who thank God, we have each other to run up or down the stairs when we need each other. Other neighbors say hello but this neighbor has become essential.
E and I are talking in the coffee shop and it’s easy and fun and we are talking about people in our life. And then she says, “Sometimes the culture don’t matter as much as when you walk into their home you realize…oh yeah, this looks like my zoo too. This is what it is like with this Italian friend I am telling you about.” E is German. And in that moment I totally get what she means. She talks about when she looks at his family pictures, they look like hers…values, understandings, education, what family gatherings look like and how they left those family gatherings to come to this place. Oh yes, the zoo that I know and the zoo that I claim. The ones I participate in and the ones that I watch. The ones that I can relate to. I get that.
Even though Ana and I come from very different places and cultures we share the same zoo in so many ways which is why this is working. Our values shared and our wants understood and our backgrounds similar in some ways and other hand totally different.
That comment has popped up in my mind over and over again as I look at different ways that I interact with a different culture and choose to live in it. What zoos will I decide to participate in and adopt into my own self? And some zoos I have landed into and I get to choose whether to watch outside of the zoo or outside of the cages as a spectator or join right in….in a class full of Italians in which I now have a shared experience. For the first few days, I watched and observed and finally I have jumped right in and claimed the zoo. Today we all talked about where we ate pizza this weekend. It wasn’t even a question as to whether we ate pizza this weekend but from where. My zoo. I now have my Refugio zoo. We are going to two dinner parties this week that are becoming more of the same zoo that is mine.
These are choices to jump right in….I am no longer the tourist just observing the ways of a different animal. We shall see how the zoo expands or if there are places that I decide are not mine and will remain outside of my cages.