You’re Not From Around Here Are You?
October 5, 2009
It’s always rhetorical. What causes such a statement? My smile. I have a tendency to do it a lot apparently :) Is it a California thing? a ‘me’ thing? Who knows…maybe a little of both, but it certainly catches people off guard here ….enough to elicit strange looks, sneering, hissing (okay, maybe not hissing) and the eventual inquiry as to where I hail from.
Being called out for this has happened quite a lot since I’ve been in New York and at first it annoyed me because all I wanted to do was fit in. I mean…come on….no one living in New York is actually from here right? How hard can ‘fitting in’ be? I even went so far as to scowl for no good reason, but it didn’t take. Then one night not so long ago, while at an exhibition at the Guggenheim, a behemoth security guard motions for me to come over to him. I look to both sides twisting behind me then back again, and mime “me?”. He nods and returns the mime…”yeah you”. I stroll over unsure of what I’ve done other than maybe non-verbally suggesting that someone was crowding my space while I was trying to appreciate a piece of art I didn’t understand. “What country you from?”, he says. “Uh….this one”, I reply….. though it probably came out sounding like more of a question than a statement of fact. “Nah, you’re not from here. I just saw you smile at some stranger and people here don’t do that.” I laughed and was a little relieved even though technically I was guilty. The conversation was brief, and I walked away thinking that maybe I don’t need to fit it….maybe I should stop trying so hard….maybe NOT fitting in isn’t so bad.
A few days later…I’m rushing down 42nd (smiling no less….at what I can’t remember) and some random says, “you’re not from here are you?”. Without slowing to oblige, I laugh and respond confidently, “No…I am certainly not.”
|“The reward for conformity was that everyone liked you except yourself.”|
|— Rita Mae Brown|