-Uhm, sorry, you’re not supposed to take pictures here- the nice lady in the souvenir shop told us smiling, after we already took about 47 pictures standing next to her, and I was about to leave all of my stuff on the shelves, so I could take ‘just one more’.
If you’re wondering what kind of pictures we could possibly take in a souvenir shop, keep in mind that it was a souvenir shop in Nashville and it was Mardi Gras.
But in case you still can’t think of anything, let me help you.
‘This is the most documented trip ever!’, James is always laughing at us. And I know he’s right. Although, there are so many situations that are >not< documented, and I wish they were. The funny rides in the tiny SOUL train, where we sleep and eat and laugh and sing and annoy each others. Many of the presentations we did, especially the spontaneous ones. The warmth of the host families. So, although we have hundreds of pictures by now, in fact, very little is documented. Although we take our cameras everywhere and annoy everyone every now and then- can you take a photo of us? Yes, that’s probably (maybe including ‘so, where are you from?’ and ‘what’s your favorite color’ during the presentations in elementary schools) the most common sentence of this tour.
‘I think that capturing the moment, sometimes destroys it. You know what I mean?’- James asked. Of course, the actual sentence he used was a lot more American, but the meaning was the same (if you understand my Croenglish). And I do understand it. I couldn’t agree more actually. I didn’t have Facebook for a few months, because I was tired of too much information, both received and given. I got it back when I found out I was selected to sing in SOUL, so we would start preparing for the tour. And I was thinking of deactivating it again before the tour started… I was sure (and I still hold on to that belief) that it would make a totally different trip for me. This tour wouldn’t be the same- at all. Maybe I would even enjoy it more. Or at least in a different way. But then I thought it’s more important for me to try to share it with my family and friends. As much as I can. The things I see are often breathtaking. And I wish my mom, and/or my brother and/or some of my friends were here to experience and see the things that I got to see. Just the other day, I told my mom on Skype- Ugh, I wish you were here to see it!
-That’s okay. You’ll tell me about it.
So I feel responsible for sharing what I experience, because it’s truly unique. That’s why I feel like writing and posting pictures. And yesterday, I got such a wonderful message from a dear high school friend Jana, saying: I see all of your pictures and feel as if I was there with you!
Uhhh!! Thank you for saying that! That’s exactly why I do this! (But then again, don’t think I am too altruistic, I like doing all that. And I started to write this blog so I wouldn’t forget about what happened and when. I’d think that only mad people read all this. And yet… I like to share) I know it’s not nearly the same. And sometimes I wonder how come I got to be the lucky one to experience all of this, but… that just motivates me to share even more.
-See, what I believe is… that is a social obligation. To treat people the way you want them to treat you- that’s what my host in Nashville, Wayne told me, after I told him how grateful I was that he hosted me and treated like royalty. Btw, he had a beautiful interior. I felt underdressed sleeping in my bed.
-I lived in Luxembourg many years ago. I couldn’t find a job and this one family hosted me for two weeks! I didn’t want to disturb them, so I would take a shower early in the morning, while they were still asleep, go out and come back really late, when I was sure they were already sleeping. Sadly, I didn’t stay in touch with them. I tried sending letters, but they moved. Now they’re probably gone. But 40 years later, I still remember that. And I am still grateful because they hosted me for 2 weeks- Wayne said.
Wayne’s an interesting person. I enjoyed talking to him. He’s very very interesting. One morning, right after I woke up, I went to eat cereal, I was wearing my hoody and had my glasses on (the easiest way to tell I have a day off). I’m looking at my laptop, and he starts saying something… of course, I commented on what he said very ironically. He looked at me, smiling, and while a Croatian person would probably totally ignore me or have said ‘you’re such an idiot’, he started saying some very flattering things, which was weird out of several reasons:
1) I’m not used to that.
2) I’m certainly not used to that during breakfast.
3) During breakfast, I look like hybrid of the following, and I can’t take compliments looking like that:
But he was very nice and very interesting. I enjoyed talking to him every time. He’s one of the people you think exist only in movies. We haven’t had one ‘normal’ conversation, and all of them were magnificent. I like talking to people in a way that I can skip the obvious. The conversation becomes so much more interesting. And you don’t talk with just words. Sometimes you say it all by smiling in different ways.
Just before I left, Wayne gave me his contact details, saying:
-You should keep this. Something tells me you’ll be back here sooner than you think. You never know!
I smiled and said: -You never know.
-Except that- Wayne smiled- something tells me you do know.
See what I’m talking about?
He took us to out for dinner and then to a jazz concert at F. Scott’s with his nice friend Eric. It’s the first time I saw someone playing a trumpet shell. I liked that concert.
The next day, on Saturday, Eric and Wayne prepared a huge breakfast for me and Andy. Eric has his special way of preparing pancakes with maple syrup and fruits, and it was really delicious. In the evening, we went to Nashville Symphony since one of the hosts, Roger, was the oboe player in the symphony. The conductor of the orchestra was Uruguayan, so you probably won’t be surprised by the fact we went to meet him afterwards and sang an Uruguayan song for him. Gabe also asked him for an autograph, so the Uruguayan conductor signed it with Gabriel’s gigantic pen which he bought earlier in the souvenir shop.
On Sunday we performed in the United Universalist Church and later Wayne and Eric took me and Andy to see a Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple near the church. It was my first time in a hindu temple, and it was amazing. I was always fascinated by that culture.
And afterwards we went to Costco. I think Eric was the one to say that Costco is a truly American thing. And it is. If you want to find out more about it, I think this is a great definition http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Costco . In fact, several definitions of Costco. I bought my running shoes there to start getting back to the way I used to live before coming to USA. Little by little! Or, as I learned, in Nigerian, nike nike (which, also, surprise surprise, happens to be title of the song we perform with the quartet). On Monday, although we couldn’t believe it and it wasn’t certainly the way we planned, we had a snow day! In Tennessee! And there was no snow. But… after spending almost 2 months in Michigan… snow day wasn’t that unusual (even though it was).
So, on Monday, we had a rehearsal and our weekly meeting and in the evening Wayne showed us the American Greek Parthenon (Btw, I need to tell you this… when I was in high school, we had a History test and there was a question about Parthenon, something like, ‘What’s the name of the temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the maiden goddess Athena?”. Everyone cheated on History tests. Since I’m too stupid to hide and use all the cheating notes aka šalabahtere (it was way too stressful and time- consuming… until my class decided we could copy all the notes in a smaller format, anyway), I needed to study (occasionally) if I knew I wasn’t going to cheat. So when I got to that question, I was so happy, because I knew it starts with p, so I knew the answer. Well, maybe wasn’t sure, because I thought of another one.
-Hm… is it pentagon or pentagram? Oh my, I’m so stupid, pentagram is that five pointed star! Of course it’s pentagon!
I got a B in that test. Which wasn’t that bad considering the answer I just mentioned. But the teacher mentioned that answer in front of the whole class. And shortly before we got the results, I told the loudest girl in the class, next to who I was sitting, about my answer, so, although the teacher didn’t say who wrote that since she forgot (she just said ‘some imbecile wrote that US Department of Defense is a Greek temple’), but thanks to my indiscrete friend who I trusted with my, as per usual, imaginative thought, everyone knew who the ‘some imbecile’ was.)
Anyway… the American >Parthenon< was both beautiful and… kind of pathetic from (my) European point of view. -I didn’t know that. But of course there is a Parthenon in Nashville. We need to copy things because we don’t have culture of our own- James said, after I told him that Wayne took us there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really beautiful. But I think it can’t be considered as impressive as the one in Athens, for many (probably obvious) reasons.
On Tuesday we performed in several schools and in the evening we were invited over for dinner with Wayne’s friend, Pat.Pat lived in Asia for years and it’s quite easy to come to that conclusion simply by… walking into her house. It’s all decorated in that way. It’s all unique and stylish and very fascinating. And so was the dinner. Before we started eating, we sang one Taiwanese song. It was a very intimate performance for our new friends and I think that’s why we enjoyed it very much. It was informal, but very real. The food was great.
And the china that we used was over 500 years old, initially used by the Ming dynasty and it was my first time using chopsticks. I was so proud when I finished eating. Of course, a lot of the food that I intended to put into my mouth ended up on the ceiling etc but at least, in the end (about 7 and a half hours later) my plate was empty. Also, the very first fortune cookie I had didn’t say anything about me living in a cardboard box and using a donkey as public transportation, therefore I felt very fortunate.
I enjoyed the group conversation afterwards. Maybe I was the only one to feel that way (should I tell you something you don’t know?), but it really felt nice talking to the people there, sharing thoughts and stories. And we all have our stories. The stories that define us, I guess. I don’t really like sharing some personal stories, but occasionally I do it (rarely, though). I don’t mind doing that, some of them are facts, I just prefer not to. But once I do (probably because I don’t do it very often), I hope people won’t be apathetic (and usually they are). I don’t need people to feel sorry for me, that’s never the point. As I said, we all have our stories. It’s just that… hm… in a way, I consider that a test, I guess. If you want to find out if the person you’re talking to should be a part of your life, share something you don’t share with many people. Once you see their reaction, you’ll know if you want them close to you or not. It’s not always about the words they use or they don’t use, it’s not necessarily about their facial expression, it’s more about… how they look at you. Although it’s going to sound super stupidly strange in a hippy way, you can feel it. And you know it’s true. Well, anyway, Eric passed the friend test.
It was nice talking to everyone, but Eric had that I’m- happy- to- be- your- friend look (which he proved by giving me a 20$ Starbucks gift card. The note said: ‘it’s a lot of tea ;)’). And I am happy to consider him a friend. I like being surprised. And what surprised me in this case was that he actually thought about me. He actually thought about who I was. I think about people all the time! But it’s so strange to realize that someone thought about me. In a way- you are Sonja and this is what (I think) you are like. He also said he meditated for us. And, maybe it sounds narcissistic, but I am so grateful for that. I think you can’t be friends with anyone if you don’t think about who the other person is (but again, it comes from a person who is certain no one thinks about her). Since we’re all different, it’s only logical to get to know the person you choose to spend your free time with, and I guess it’s not always when they’re around. In this case, since I am writing this post sitting in my bed in New Orleans, and Eric is still in Nashville, it’s most certainly not always when they’re around. I just realized what a great person he is.
-Pat is a very nice lady. She was very moved by what you said. I feel bad leaving her with the dishes, but I’ll go there tomorrow after you leave, to help her clean it up. Then again, she’s coming to my cabin in the mountains on Thursday so, you know, life is a circle. I always try to treat people the way I would like them to treat me- Wayne said on our way back home from dinner.
Yup, we like to take pics. That’s one way of remembering and sharing, but I guess it’s more important to really remember, you know, in your heart, and really share- sincerely and from that same heart with all the people on your way. And I could only wish there was a camera which could capture the happiness that others bring into my life, as well as the gratitude that will define the person who I want to be.
Lifelong challenge. My fave.
Uh, what a mushy post. I promise to make it funnier next time (or maybe the time after).