In two worlds...
I know this will not be the final way I put across this experience, I wish only for it to take form of some kind and wrestle out the ways my encounter with an excellent Aboriginal man tells of the depth of our distance – distance poses the idea wrongly but I write to tease out exactly what I mean in place of this word. Mine is an upper class neighbourhood and well kept in a way that would make the presence of an Aboriginal man an odd happening. There are reasons for its oddness to which I am not committed, I wish only to speak of the way encountering him was odd for me and perhaps venture something useful about what is revealed by the oddness I describe.
Oddness is not the usual mood of my long wanderings of the suburbs I have grown up in. I habitually emerge from the lip of my driveway and step out into the wide road, striking out into the higher suburbs and hither and thither along the creekbeds, sidestreets, always climbing to where the gum trees grow tall and birdsong comes gulped in with the air. Mine is a reflective mode of walking. A thoughtful endeavour bringing me the peace of simply putting one foot in front of the other.
All of these facts matter to how deeply familiar were many aspects we encountered in one another. I was wandering one way and towards me he was wandering too. He was as comfortable barefoot as I was in my shoes. Though, the concrete path was only for my shoes and came between his feet and the soil from which I knew these tall and ancient gums grew. Our ages were close and juvenescence danced in both our faces. And so we came to look kindly on one another as we halted at opposite ends of a road crossing. Both checking for lazy midday traffic before stepping into the road to cross.
He raised a hand to bring about my pause and attention. Us two well-meaning wanders came to standing at one side of the road. I now looked upon the familiarity of his youth and everything ancient in his gaze struck deep into me. Yet, his words took more time to muster than his assured eyes. He was unhurried and by my manner of attentiveness and way of standing I had all the time in the world. And yet, summoning words in common took an effort that caused him discomfort. His sentence was eventual, steady and patient. He wanted to know the way. Adelaide’s center is a city block to be sure but all of us call it ‘town’. He wanted to know the way to town and then smiled at all there was in common between us. One wanderer consulting with another.
Then the uncomfortable effort became my own attempt at replying. Not a panic. Just too many words about all the ways he might approach town. Beginning, as I did, with the bus routes flowing from the intersection ahead of us, I knew it was a beautiful day and he would want to walk and so I brought my reply to a finish by declaring simply that the road ahead would lead all the way into town. It was at once too many words for that reply and not nearly enough words for all I wanted to say and acknowledge about our wandering in common but differently in two worlds.
Thanks brother, he said holding out his hand for that “brother” handshake all of us learn from popular culture. I ambled along my way and he must have wandered his way just fine because I felt no need to look back. But it was odd.
Despite knowing our affinity in taking the same disposition towards it, mine and his were not the same world. It is a common thing to not know what being in this world is like for another person, even with intimate friends. But his efforts and mine had struck upon a deeper untethering. Ours was the discomfort of being unable to be in the same world. There was no world we together could think about.
#writing #reflection #walking #personal #worlds #thinking