In my head I have been practicing this sentence, “You look like you could be from Ethiopia,” based on advice from Cazadora (Hot Soapy Agua) after my last post about Selam-ing someone. I am trying to get comfortable with it, and make it flow. I think my big fear is it is going to come out like, “Hey, Black Person, are you from Af-REE-Ca?” (said the crazy white woman.)
I am honing in on a SE (suspected Ethiopian) who works at our local Walmart (which, embarrassingly, we have been frequenting lately). His name has an unusual spelling – possibly a transliteration, and he couldn’t stop staring at Little Dude the other day. But there was a line behind us and it was shortly after my last mucked up Selam-ing and I just couldn’t get the words out. So, I am practicing in my head for my next encounter with him. But, the Universe doesn’t deliver on my time-table.
So, today when we were leaving the library (which I am proud to say we frequent) we crossed paths with another SE.
The gentleman was across the street from us and we were both waiting for the light to change. We would be passing each other in the crosswalk. He looked Ethiopian to me, and I was trying to break down exactly why I thought that in my head. Sure, there was the shape of his face and his general stature, but also the cut of his shirt and the way he wore it untucked. I went back and forth in my head, yes, no, no, yes.
When the “walking man” appeared the kids and I began to cross. I gave the SE a big grin and friendly nod, but as we passed I saw he had a tribal marking in the middle of his forehead, so before he got away I threw out “Selam” using my best Ethiopian accent. He whipped his head around, changed direction and followed us back to the curb that he just stepped off of!!!!
We have contact.
S is actually Eritrean but lived in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. He just arrived in our town about a month ago. After chatting on the corner for a few minutes, we exchanged phone numbers (his suggestion). Our family will be taking him to dinner, hopefully this weekend!!!
I closed my last post about Selam-ing with the following sentence, “At this point, making connections in the street is my best shot.” I had no idea this would become completely literal.