Sunday, July 28, 2013

in the middle of bloomingdale's, at the chanel section...

...i had my first culture shock meltdown.

so, i've waited for some kind of freak out regarding overwhelmed feelings towards my culture in comparison to the romanian and moldovan cultures i witnessed just weeks ago.
i would go to stores and feel a little silly for worrying about materialistic things and whatnot,
but nothing made me feel downright disturbed or annoyed.

i even thought to myself, "either you are feeling nothing right now and this is wrong," or i thought, "good job, kid, you're handling yourself well."
it was today in san francisco that i would come across several beggars. 
one of them was particularly ill in the mind and his hollering broke my heart.
another declared himself a satanist.
the rest were simply broken people.

i watched as onlookers passed the beggars up, either looking at them like they were animals or as if they weren't anything significant at all.
i was appalled. i quickly remembered the faces of children and deformed beggars that i passed in europe. i remembered the feeling of compassion and helplessness i had felt. but most of all, i remembered the feeling of shame for the fact that i got to return to a life of comfort while so many others lived in poverty.
when i stand face to face with someone who is asking something of me in a begging way i feel ashamed and shallow. 
and, please know that i do not look down on people who do well financially and i most certainly do not frown upon the life i, as an american, have been given.
my point is simply that romania gave me an overwhelming appreciation for what i do have, and yet that appreciation still faces the challenge of selfishness. romania also gave me a desire to get on the level of see life how they see it.
i learned the importance of looking into the eyes of someone else with the intention of silently communicating "i see you as a person, as someone who has dignity and a right to it."

so, my mentality while going into bloomingdale's was an overwhelmed and confused one. my mom and aunt asked me to try on some chanel lipstick and i agreed. 
but, as the woman who worked the shop was rude to my aunt
and as the woman next to me acted with arrogance and with body language that simply asked me to move out of the way, i found myself freaking out inside.
i looked in the mirror as the red smeared across my face and i felt disgust for the label of the product in my hand,
i felt humiliation for feeling as though the two women looked down upon me,
and, what's more, i couldn't believe i was standing there trying on such an expensive little tube of red-nothing cosmetics while others in romania worked so hard to serve people.
and in that moment i wiped the red across my face,
muttered some swear words in regards to the rude women,
i threw my tissue covered in lipstick on the floor,
and i began to march away: defensive and hurt.

it all sounds dramatic now,
but i suppose it's a simple case of you-had-to-be-there-and-you-had-to-be-me.

i love my culture, i do.
and i do not look down on those around me.
i just hadn't been hit with the reality of what i witnessed until i saw the poor vs. the wealthy once again like i did today in the city.
it made me grateful for the perspective i have gained, but it also made me terribly sad for the drastic contrast that exists across each and every society. 

that's my little rant for this evening.
other than my meltdown, my sunday was beautiful.
i hope your's was too!
i am terribly nostalgic for galati and chininau, but
i suppose i'll just have to wait for my next trip.

1 comment:

  1. Oh man, I came back from Uganda just like you, not really feeling anything, but lately I've been going crazy at how materialistic America is! Not to mention how rude people here are, just like what you wrote here! It's so overwhelming, all of it. And I don't think you were being dramatic at all. ;)

    Let's try and get together soon so I can hear all about your trip!