She said, “Girl,
you need to break out of your comfort zone.”
I was confused.
I have NO comfort zone.
She was saying this
in response to my
previous confused look
as she rattled off directions,
in Chinese, of the good store
to buy clothes for my daughter
who is suddenly growing like a weed.
I had only been living in Shanghai a couple of months.
And then I started thinking…
About the first time I went camping around
the state of Arizona,
and then backpacking alone
without a plan,
going to an ashram in the Adirondack Mountains
without a penny in my pocket,
my two years in Peace Corps
sleeping on the floor
in a house I shared
with a 7-foot snake and 2 tarantulas
that didn’t pay rent.
Living with an abusive husband,
and going through chemo, radiation,
no voice, feeding tube,
and not even able to drink a drop of water;
I am a single mother, living in Shanghai
with my two preschool daughters
and this might be the most comfortable time of our lives,
But I wondered how a person’s perception could be so skewed.
And then I thought about Charlie
this guy I met in the ice cream aisle of the store.
We were both buying vanilla ice cream
because we both were recovering from throat cancer
and that was exactly ALL that we had in common.
He said, “I am really good judge of character,”
and then proceeded to tell me how he completely understood
“how I am building walls,”
“How I am cutting myself off from people.”
and “How I am turning away my friends.”
He got the same confused look.
I had never been so surrounded by friends.
I had friends paying my insurance bills,
paying my rent,
taking care of my girls,
bringing food and money,
cleaning my house,
and checking up on me
all day, everyday.
George Bailey had nothing on me.
But this man Charlie,
had told the same bad joke 3 times
to 3 different people
and was so negative and off-putting
that I just didn’t want to talk to HIM.
I understand projection.
I understand perspective.
My Mohican friend, Mike, gave me
my third-stage Native name
of “Standing Wave.”
He said it’s that place in the river
where it looks calm as glass on the surface
but below there’s a rapid undertow.
He always saw me so clearly.