Someone said once that living over here would give us a taste of what it is like to live with racism regularly. I thought about it but after contemplation I have to say that living here under constant scrutiny is more like being a celebrity.
Granted it’s celebrity without any other perks like access to plush spas and first class treatment but celebrity status nonetheless. On a recent family trip to a lakeside town, this was again brought to the forefront of my mind. Tom loves playing around with his GPS so, along with Jasmine, he searched Google Earth to find a potentially ‘undiscovered’ beach where we could camp. We found the little track leading to the beach. A seemingly deserted clearing filled with children as soon as we parked our car.
Tom left with our kids to explore the beach while I stayed in the car to
watch it. read rather than trudging through the sand. A crowd of children clustered around the car to watch me. They crept closer and closer, peering through the windows, looking at me, until I lifted my camera and then they would scatter. They got bolder and bolder over the next hour. At one point they burst into song and began dancing. Unfortunately I was unable to capture this. It was really sweet.
Celebrity status is not always easy to deal with as we are constantly stared at. It is impossible to just blend in and go about our business. I imagine this is the way Julia Roberts feels when she dashes to the store to get milk and people stare and examine all she does. I've had people stare as I shopped and discuss every item in my cart with their friends.
There is also the element of ‘but you [as a celebrity] have so much—why can’t you share with us? ' We’ve all done it—a celebrity gives 1 million to some cause and we think, “Well, sure, if that’s all you can spare out of your last hundred million salary for such and such movie.” The expanse between them and us is so wide that we can’t even begin to understand what life is like for them. We experience this when people come to our door and they ask for help. We do what we can but it is simply impossible to meet the needs of everyone and at times even when we go above and beyond there is still a feeling that we are judged by the community for what we still have rather than what we’ve given.
Of course any mistakes we make are also blindingly obvious to all around us. Tom once hit a guinea fowl with his car on the way to a shopping trip. Animals are hit and killed on a regular basis since they seem to view roads as their personal playground but when Tom hit the bird it was immediately big news in the village and he was held to a much higher standard because of who he is. We experienced this recently when we had the accident involving the boy.
Sometimes ‘celebrity status’ can have a few perks—on the bus we rarely have to sit on boxes in the aisles because the conductors will usually find us a seat. And there are a few other times that it pays to be a ‘celebrity’ but mostly it just means that we are stared at a lot.
Whew! It’s a good thing this photo wasn’t posted on the internet. That would be really embarrassing!