It started with Nate, Canaan, and I driving to the L to go downtown to get visas
Nate: The hood of our car looks really red.
Kelley: Yeah, it does. Maybe the dust on the hood is reflecting the taillights in front of us.
Nate: I don’t think so.
Ten minutes later …
Nate: It looks like spray paint or something
Kelley: (Scooches up in her seat to get a better view.) Oh my gosh it is spray paint and there are letters. Someone wrote on our car!
Yes, our car was tagged. It now has three choice letters on the hood and the headlights have been covered in red. Super.
We get to the visa office and I expect to keep our 9am appointment. In fact, I’m curious to meet the man I made this appointment with because he is the man with whom I had this conversation (in Spanish) in reference to our appointment.
Him: And your last name?
Him: T as in …
Me: T as in …. oh wow I can’t think of any Spanish words with T, hmmm.
Him: T as in, as in tit? Oh I’m so, so sorry that just popped out. I apologize.
Me: Yes, T.
We had a good laugh and moved on to set the appointment. Of course, when we got there people mostly told us to “wait over there” while they talked to people in an unidentifiable order. While I waited (4 hours total) an Ecuadorian woman asked me what type of milk I feed our 6 month old. It turns out she was asking because it’s her opinion that many babies are much too fat, that they are unhealthy and she doesn’t like the way they look. Apparently, according to her, my baby looks nicely healthy and slim and so she wants to know what type of milk makes a baby this way.
Four hours later, one stressful 15-minute shoulder nap for the baby and we almost home. But, to our downfall, we risked the urine-ridden elevator at the green line pulaski stop so that Nate wouldn’t have to carry the baby in the stroller down the stairs. On the tiny, stench-filled elevator was my family and an African American man wearing headphones. Canaan proceeded to openly stare at this man, as he does with all strangers. Maybe if he had a friendly stare things would have gone differently, but that stare is dead-on, unblinking, without a hint of a smile until he knows you. The man pulled half an earphone off and proceeded to address Canaan.
Man (at a volume to be heard over his music): Oh baby, you’ve got a lot to learn in life, so many new things to learn.
Nate & I: Hehe (awkward half laughs, unsure of ourselves)
Man: You’re staring at me because I’m a black man. I look different and that’s why you stare. You’re are going to learn that they are black people in this world.
Nate & I: He tends to stare at most new people …
Man: And it’s okay that you don’t know better than to stare. You are surrounded by white and all you see is white but you’ll learn. I was young and I never saw a white person til I was older but I learned.
Elevator doors open, we exit and Nate & I do another half shrug, awkward laugh …
That was my day, which involved many hours of waiting, no visas to make it worth our time, one tired baby, one tagged, embarrassing-to-be-seen-in-car, and a variety of cultural experiences. Oh and Canaan’s first L ride, may some of them be less eventful in the future.