my web log

a rose by any other name

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My next door neighbours have adorable children and I have a gigantic trampoline in my front yard.  As such, I am friends with my neighbours.  They are a lovely couple – husband and wife from different ethnic groups in far away areas of this country.  They are well off.  They are religious, I think; the wife covers her hair and they named their two little children deeply religious names.  I was walking to the coffee shop Wednesday evening in my ripped jeans and American football tee-shirt when the wife ran out of her house after me to invite me to the wedding of her brother-in-law.

It is hard enough to know what outfit to wear when I am going out to a bar with friends from my own culture.  It is impossible to chose what to wear to another culture’s wedding ceremony if you have never been before. After trying on every dress in my closet six times, I left the house in an aqua blue tee-shirt tucked into a deep blue high-waisted pencil skirt stretching just past my knees, my hair pulled back in a ponytail.  I painted on a tiny bit of black eyeliner and lip gloss.  I crossed the driveway and entered the spell of the party, the bubble of music blasting and voices chatting encircling the house next door.  The dozens of women across the driveway were covered head to toe in sequins and sparkles.  The men were in suits and ties.  Each individual woman was wearing more makeup on her face than the cumulative amount that I have worn in my whole entire life.

Nevertheless I was pulled easily into the party’s heart.  The music was loud with a wonderful beat.  Women and men gripped my hands and we danced in circles.  Step once left, twice right, repeat.  Sometimes someone would break out into the center of the circle and shake.  It reminded me of dancing in west Africa although in so many other ways it couldn’t have been more different.  The steps were different.  I think it was the joy that was the same.

The bride was covered from her toes to her fingertips in shining white satin.  Her hair was swept beneath a well-wrapped white satin scarf and on top of the scarf sat a jauntily cocked hat with white feathers.  She interlaced her gloved hands with her new husband and her friends and they stepped once left, twice right, repeated, repeated, being careful not to step on the children, high on cake and orange sodas, sprinting underfoot.

The next morning was Friday and it was the day of William and Catherine’s wedding in London.  My western friends gathered around the TV in one of our living rooms just like we’d gathered to watch the Tahrir Square protests two months before.  This time, we drank pink champagne and watched the pomp and circumstance.  We watched the BBC interviews with the crowd.  We watched video of people in the crowed dressed in hand-sewn outfits made from British flags drinking sodas and eating snacks, gripping each other’s hands, dancing together, laughing.

The clothes were different.  The joy for love, the hope for the future, was very similar.

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Written by ilchwl

30 April 2011 at 5:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Hi! I enjoyed reading your posts. Living as foreigner in Japan, I’ve learned through our cultural differences that there are just some things that exist in all human beings and through your writing I realized that weddings are a very good way to highlight this. A very touching piece!

    A friend of mine likes to write too and recently I’ve managed to convince him to start a blog (http://alphabendi.com/blogs). If you have the time, please drop by and leave a comment. I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.

    Thank you.

    Melissa

    15 October 2011 at 4:59 am


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