Culture Shock

It's like sitting down at the piano to play a brand new song. I stare at the sheet of symbols in front of me, knowing that they should mean something which means something to my brain and my fingers, but I can't quite make it out. The music stumbles down my fingers and what emerges sounds like a drunk chicken dancing the macarena on the keyboard. So discouraging. I think, I will never be able to play this song. 

It is like that moment when the staircase runs out of stairs before my brain does and for one heart-stopping instant, the ground is not where I knew it would be. 

It is as if I step out of the door one day, and the sky is a striking shade of green, and I can't figure out why no one else is commenting on it or noticing it until I wonder if maybe I am the one who is crazy and the sky has been green all along. 

Sometimes it is obvious, when I go to bow and run into the other person's outstreched handshake. 
Or when I take off my shoes at the door and then my poor bare feet are embarrassingly naked all by themselves in an entire house full of well-clothed feet. 

Sometimes it is subtle and confusing, when I can't figure out why grocery shopping leaves me exhausted and stressed. 
Or when I go to say goodbye and everyone is gone before I thought we were half-way through the goodbying. 

It is as if I am dancing with the world around me and seem to be just half a step off from everyone else, just out of sync, just wrong, and everyone whose toes I step on and whose arms I run into look at me as if they cannot figure out what manner of thing is wrong with me. 

Sometimes, for no obvious reason, I am so tired and so confused and so overhwelmed and I can't even put my finger on the reason why. It is as though gravity was increased just a notch or two while I slept and now every task takes just a little bit more effort than I expect it to. (Of course, that may be courtesy of moving to 9200 feet altitude)

It is as though, as I look around, I begin to despair of anything ever being what I expect it to be again. As though I will forever be living off-balance. Out of sync. Out of touch. Alone. Both painfully invisible and embarrasingly obnoxious. Never knowing what to say or what to do or when to do or say or it, and always, always guessing wrong. 

But then, one day, I step out of my door and my foot lands sure upon the step.
And the sky looks lovely today, with it's familiar, exotic green, and although I still think skies are pretty when they are blue, green seems to be a nice alternative. 

And I realize when I reach the top of the hill, the end of the day, that I am not so very worn out. I realize that I can walk faster, jog, even run. 

One day I sit down and the song seems more familiar, and I know what these symbols are trying to tell and the music trickles down my fingers and slowly, haltingly tiptoes across the keyboard in shy harmony. 

One day I meet their outstretched hand with a firm, confident shake and enjoy the boldness and up-frontness of this culture.

One day I take my shoes off at the door and laugh at everyone's looks of knowledge that this is just who I am, that I am a little different and that is ok. 

One day I step forward into the dance and I am still a little different of rhythm, but it works, and I weave my way between the dancers and greet their smiles with one of my own as we acknowledge the spice of life and dance together. 

I sit down at the piano and settle into the familiar sight of this song and the music flows eagerly down my fingers and dances strong and sure and free across the keyboard and echoes in my soul and I realize that this song will forever be a piece of me, no matter what other songs I sing. 

And when I next sit down in front of a new sheet of music, I step out slowly but confident that it will someday sing like the song before. I know that as awkward and odd as it seems now, I will one day dance with these people like I have with those before. One day, this place will be familiar too. And my life will be richer for the addition of this song within my soul.

And so I play. 

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