Australian legacy

“Are all Australians this gregarious?” Apoorva and I wondered at the amazing collection of people who gathered to send Alex and Dan toward the next phase of their life adventure. There were many more people at this party whom I had not met than those I had even seen once or twice. More than 200 well-wishers, “in only four years!”
The joys of these parties include seeing people I don’t otherwise encounter, as well as meeting new folk. Inevitably I have intriguing conversations with people whose goodwill emanates like sunlight. Linus, for instance, who only has three ideas (!) for his dissertation in resource economics – seeking ways to entice governments and industries to reduce the environmental effects of capitalism. Franz (of FOOL ARE US co-ed soccer fame) has a penchant for the subtle (not!), which protects him from revealing too much about his own ambitions. 🙂 (He does seem interested in the modern/postmodern juncture but that might be a general, rather than specific knowledge.) Cecilia, from northeastern Brazil, whose work in comparative literature seems language-based (Portuguese and Spanish) yet opens fascinating questions about parallels and distinctions among former colonizing nations.
I found myself shy with Alenka because she asked if my students know that I sometimes blog them. (They do.) It wasn’t the question itself, it was the knowledge of exposure, a bit of vulnerability. Later, the stunningly-handsome Bob and I had a stimulating discussion about the way I (try to) blog and whether and/or to what extent I need to protect individual’s privacy from a civil liberties perspective. I do know this is a concern (some learned via the school of hard knocks), which is why I seek permission. The thing is, I’m not doing journalism, not reporting “on” or “about” others; instead what I’m doing is “reporting” (revealing) me. By implication, those who I interact with are “revealed” too, sortof – in the sense of learning what I think or feel about some aspects of our interaction.
The point (in my own warped mind, smile) is to get beyond the safe and comfortable to the deeper stuff that we as humans are challenged to resolve: hierarchy and its forms of power, oppression, violence, injustice. So, you get to see (if you wish) that blogging is a way of writing myself into being and inviting/seeking others of similar vision. Corny as it sounds, I hope my view on events and persons is received as a gift, a memento, a hook for continuing relationship.
Then, the question arises, who reads? I usually do not know. 🙂 What if I had regular readers? I don’t know! What if I had regular commenters? Geez – there’s a question! I had to let go of that desire and accept that this mode requires making myself vulnerable and allowing the exposure, in and of itself, to be what matters. In truth, I would love to know who reads and what they think, but the knowing generates new possibilities for relating, which both excites me and tweaks a bit of anxiety. What happens when we choose more intimacy, more connection?
I love Alex and Dan because not only are they totally wild and hilariously fun, they are also real, human, tuned-in, and conscious. These are the kind of people they attract, and I am just plumb-tickled to be included (even if Alex doesn’t remember how she knows me!) (I was smuggled in by a Romanian, shhhh!)
Where else do conversations span such diversity of nationalities (including Cameroon, India, and Nepal among those already identified), academic disciplines, career interests, travel plans (go Nicole go!), relational successes and dating traumas (at least someone got an ironing board), and religious diversity with such good humor?
The boundaries of my knowledge were stretched on two particular counts. First, I intuitively grasped an extension of whiteness (inherited privilege via colonial genealogical heritage) as a tangible (possible) feature of what I’ve been taught as an American to view as “Latin”, i.e., as other. The second is the embarrassing linguistic fact of struggling to hear terms and labels, names, in languages other than English. I received a generous behind-the-scenes email to get Dawoodi Bohra spelled correctly. I’m such a naive and un-educated american! I wondered if they were related to Sufiism? Not really – only distantly via the common root of Islam. (I attended a sema last summer in Istanbul.)
Dan and Alex will move, transplanting roots of a legacy that will grow and strengthen their new community. It remains to us to nurture the vibrant seeds they sown here.

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