Friday, April 04, 2008

Touchy, touchy

For a while I had a crazy fascination with senses. Not all at once, but in phases. I was lucky to have this phase hit me while living in DC, a place of great variety.

It once lead me to alter a route on my walk home by many blocks so I could stare at the way a tailor had his thread organized by color the the window. So gratifying to see dozens of hues of one color, arranged from light to dark and covering the rainbow spectrum.

I would order plantains from the same place just to feel the density and sweetness on my tongue.

Coffee beans, lemon zest, mud, and 12 year olds experimenting with the new horizon of perfume kept my nose busy.

The stillness of the monuments at night and bustle of the markets on the weekend wore out my ear. So many languages, so many dialects.

The phase of touch sent me to fabric stores to fondle the silks and velvets. I'd run my fingernails against and then with the grooves on corduroy. I grasped the arms of friends wearing fuzzy sweaters. Cold water, hot wax, smooth leaves, rough carpet... my hands were constantly roaming, looking for the next high.

And one day David, a co-worker took his braids out. And I asked if I could touch his gloriously gigantic Afro.

All side conversation stopped. I'm pretty sure the air left the room. The look he gave me... so violently offended. "Hell. No," he said. I quickly apologized and tried to explain.

He didn't care. I was just a white girl from the suburbs who went the stereotypical way of wanting to touch the exotic hair of a black man.

And I let him make me feel ignorant and small. Until this week. It was not him, or his hair, or his race that I was interested in. It was just the texture and looking for the next touch. For some reason that moment was replayed in my head while in the car, and I am letting it go.

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