Wednesday, August 30, 2006

borrowing sugar

this morning i passed my downstairs neighbor, right around the corner from our house. we've met and spoken. the last time i saw her, we were leaving our apartments at the same time, and we each said hello. this time, we were walking facing each other. she was headed out, and i was headed towards the house...

i spoke to her, "hey, how ya doin?"

she just kept walking. as if i weren't standing there. as if i hadn't greeted her. it was like i didn't exist, or as if i were scenery to be ignored, like a telephone pole, or chain-link fence.

i shrugged. she must not have recognized me, 'cause we've only seen each other about two or three times since i moved in a month ago.

then i had the thought sneak in - what if she did recognize me? funny how that question made me feel. i decided not to pay it any more mind. i decided to figure she hadn't recognized me, she was preoccupied with getting to work, she doesn't talk to strangers... hey, maybe she didn't even hear me at all.

should it matter?

i suppose it should. you'd like to have a good rapport with your neighbor. which is why i shouldn't take it personally. or worry about if she would have noticed me or spoken if i was white like her, like everyone else in my building.

oops, did i think that? how silly of me. i've been reading too many messageboard threads about race relations. i've been hanging out with the afrocentric poets too much. garbage in, garbage out, you know? i need to diversify my friendship roster so i can avoid falling into the trap of being around black folks so much that not being around them makes me paranoid - that seems to happen to too many of us... anyway, i don't even know her like that, and i have no good reason to think it was because of my color.

it could be that i have a forgettable face. maybe i thought my voice was louder and more audible than it actually was when i spoke to her. maybe she'd had a nightmare and was stuck in a mental review of what happened to her in her sleep. she could be hearing impaired. who knows?

should it matter?