to know me is to know that aliens walk among us

i wish i could explain why, but for quite some time now i have known that i am...other. i am one of those characters people seem to have a hard time finding a box for, particularly a box with a neatly printed label. to steal the words of a friend's little brother, "i'm not a square, i'm a rhombus; a quadrilateral with a lean." perhaps it's the fact that i'm a habitual line stepper, never content with the side of the line i happen to find myself on. or maybe that i tend to prefer the world in my head to the world that others inhabit.

and though i have known this for what seems like forever, i still sometimes forget; until something comes out of my mouth that elicits that oh so familiar look of, really? and it's not always a bad thing, it just is what it is. but it reminds me that i am not like everybody else. i am not good at chatting, even worse at hiding irritation, can be so un-pc i've feared my bay area quasi-hippie card might get revoked, and am simply looking out of a very different window than the rest of the world. to be honest that's something of an over-statement because i have indeed found like souls. on the train, in the subway, behind the counter of our local middle eastern/ethiopian bodega, but we are so few and far between i sometimes feel myself to be a member of one of the lost tribes of israel, with just as much controversy. just the other day as i was walking to the bodega i encountered a man with a limp and an out of country accent who simply would not believe that i was indeed from oakland, or even from these supposedly united states. for a solid 5 minutes we went back and forth over the place of my birth and where my people came from (perhaps the fact that i even stood there and had the conversation is why people love to give me that look) and this is not a lone incident. it has happened everywhere from buying feta at an egyptian cafe in downtown oakland to a taxi in atlanta, a crowded bar in spain to a fruit stand in chile, it doesn't seem to matter where i am, people just know (or believe) that i am not from here, wherever here may be.
there are two stories that i believe describe it best. the first is a short one, about a comment delivered during a phone conversation in denver. i happened to be there during the DNC and after wandering through downtown in search of food, had chanced upon the headquarters of the uber-left delegates; i was suddenly surrounded by white people with dreadlocks, naked babies, and even an impromptu vegan cook out. now among my people, i settled into a patch of grass and called a friend who was or was not going to make it to denver to share in this glory. as it turned out, she wouldn't make it, but she said something to me then that rang true like the liberty bell (pre-crack of course {or maybe post crack since we are still talking about me}), "you know, you and and the universe are real tight."

and she's right. i have a way of finding myself in places that i am obviously meant to be. on the last day of a cruise, with this same friend, coincidentally or not, i found myself in a pickle. we had made plans to meet up with the friends we had made over the past week of chain smoking, dancing, and drinking till sunrise nightly, but when they called to let me know where to meet i was out. they left a message saying they were in lance's room, a totally moot statement considering i didn't know where this was. so i wandered around the boat, up and down corridors, through the many cafeterias and lounges, past innumerable doors looking for them, but no luck. i passed one particular door and stopped. it was slightly ajar and there was no sound coming from inside. i hesitated, the well trained side of my brain telling me that you do not simply walk into an unknown room because the door is open. i stood a while bouncing the idea around in my mind. i let my rational side win, and went back to my room to see if they had called again. they hadn't. i went back to that door, couldn't shake the feeling that there was something for me in there. it was still ajar and i pushed the door open calling into the interior. i got no answer and the room was empty. i proceeded inside until i got to the curtain hanging in front of the balcony doors, pushed it aside, and there they were, lounging and enjoying the last of our dominican greenery. they all looked like they had seen a ghost, no one knew that the door was open and they had given up hope that they would find me. it is moments like these that make people wonder.
a friend in high school once coined a phrase during a conversation on this very topic (one which in hindsight comes up fairly frequently), just how weird it is to know me: the jihansperience; because (his words, not mine) "knowing you is like an all encompassing, and incredibly singular, experience. you are just not like everybody else." almost a decade later and i'm still a little fuzzy on what he means. it's the same fuzziness i feel about the matrix: reloaded, while watching it i get it, understand everything the architect is saying. as soon as the movie is over, i mentally review it and have no idea what he was talking about.
there is definitely something that is known as jihan-ness, though. a type of humor, perspective, jackassery, insanity and coincidence (or not ?) that is just mine. and not that many other people don't posses such qualities, everybody does, but the fact seems irrelevant since i am not these people. it is incredible to me that every thing in this universe that has ever existed or will exist has an infinitely singular connection to it. i call it the salvia effect, a statement i may or may not explain later: the undeniable fact that we exist makes us just like everything else. by inference, this means that i am not different; i poop and eat and and sleep and do my best to avoid premature death just like every other living thing, and yet, at the same time, i am not like them, and it is recognizable. this tension between two truths, what is unique and what is shared, is what drives most of the confusion in the universe, trying to figure out where we end and everything else begins (ha ha ha, and here i thought my quasi-hippie card might be revoked, silly me).
the search for big one is the search for myself. it's one of my oldest nicknames stemming from the great height difference between me and one of my bestest friends. at a certain level it is totally absurd to be on a search for myself for as buckaroo banzai advised me, "wherever you go, there you are." but there continue to be known unknowns and unknown unknowns, things right in front of me, things right inside of me, that i can't see. so i go searching to gain perspective. often i get grumpy on my quest, tired of having to explain myself to others, weary of climbing out of the boxes i am stuffed into, but that is life. a like soul once wrote words that inspire me to keep it moving. these are the words of pierre teilhard de chardin, a renegade jesuit priest at the turn of the 20th century. please ignore the jesus overtones.

Patient Trust
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We would like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet, it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability -
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually - let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don't try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time,
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming in you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
ashe {ah.shay} ( a swahili saying meaning let it be).

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