Between Cities

Being back in the student union is surreal. Get on a train, wait for an hour, get off–and it’s like my whole world has stuttered and re-righted itself. Here, I know how to act. Here, I understand what is happening. Here, I know where to stand, what to say, whose hand to shake. I grin at the boys’ dance teacher and answer him in Javanese because I know he won’t think I’m being rude. I sit in the middle of the gamelan, not playing, just listening and following along, because I know that I’m not in anyone’s way. I ask for definitions of words I don’t know because I’m not trying to make a good first impression, trying to pretend that I understand more Indonesian than I actually do. Then two hours later I get on another train, wait an hour, and get off in a city I don’t know, a place whose rules I’ve yet to understand, whose people I’ve yet to meet.

2 thoughts on “Between Cities

  1. This is all good for your dendrites! I am going to Oberlin this weekend for a 50th reunion meeting – should I say hi to anyone for you?

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