Day 4: Sometimes I Dream in Farsi

April 29, 2018

I forgot to talk about what happened on the drive.

At one point on the trip, while still driving through a part of New York, we decided to stop at a CVS to get some alcohol swabs for the new tattoo. I didn't know if you were supposed to clean a tattoo after getting it or whatever, but it was looking a bit green. My dad suggested using his alcohol swabs. 

 

"They are 70% alcohol," he told me.

 

I didn't know if they were the kind of wipes you get when you get KFC.

 

"Those are just alcohol," my dad reassured.

 

I went to CVS anyway. I totally forgot I had the Gandhi shirt on me.

 

Suddenly, this guy yells out to me from behind one of the counters. "Hey, you!" he shouts and then steps in front of the counter. "Why do you have a Gandhi shirt?"

 

I didn't know if the guy wanted to fight me or what. "I love Gandhi," I said.

 

"Okay," the guy said, and relaxed a bit. "That's okay. I ask because I am Indian, and I was curious why you had a Gandhi shirt on."

 

I think he was the manager of the store, because he ran off to deal with a customer after that.

 

This would have been just another strange incident in this film if it wasn't preceded with some more weirdness just two minutes before. 

 

Aaron and I were ringing up all our stuff, and the cashier just let's us know out of the blue: "Oh, this town is racist," she says.

 

I was a bit confused, so was Aaron. I mean, we didn't volunteer the information, but I'm guessing this either had to do with the Gandhi shirt, or the fact that we were all people of color. I don't know. 

 

Then she starts telling us how the town has nothing to do  and she wishes she didn't live there. 

 

"I wish I lived in  California," she said. 

 

I thought that was a bit sad. I also realize I've told this all out of order, because right before this incident, even before I was in the store with Aaron, I was sitting with my dad in the parking lot. I was a bit oblivious I suppose. Suddenly, my dad says, "We are in Tromboli."

 

I thought he said 'stromboli', at first. I figured it was a Trump reference. I was right.

 

"Is 'Trump,'" my dad explained proudly to Aaron later, "And 'bully'. Trump-bully."

 

I was already laughing. But I wasn't laughing when he said it in the car, because that's when I started to get what everyone was trying to tell us. It was like out of Easy Rider. We were not necessarily welcomed in this part of the country. And there I had my Gandhi shirt and naive grin. That is, until I looked over out the car window at the person doing dip and spitting out his truck window. It was like a stereotype that you imagined, but it was not just one person. It was as Aaron later confirmed, as he walked out of the 7-11 next to the CVS and listened to my dad explain his new word.

 

"Yeah," Aaron said. "Well, I figured it was this kind of place, when the girl started out the conversation with 'this town is racist!' That was crazy."

 

"Strange," I said. "I wonder if it was because of the Gandhi shirt?"

 

"And that guy was so aggressive," Aaron confirmed. "He like came off his counter like he was going to do something about it, or he was just so excited."

 

"It's like the Gandhi shirt gave these two people of color a chance to speak up to us."

 

"Yeah, well look at who comes in," then Aaron explained, "I saw one guy come in and get a 24 pack of some cheap beer. Some nasty shit. And then, another guy comes in dressed just like him, and he's already in line with the same 24 pack, and he says to the other, 'I was thinking the same thing.'"

 

"That's funny," I said.

 

"That's just what there is to do in this town on a Friday night."

 

"Poor girl just has to be stuck here," I said and started pulling back onto the highway.

 

"Well," Aaron shrugged. "What can she do? How's she going to get out? She doesn't have the money. If she could -- in fact, if most people could -- I think they'd live in places like Los Angeles if they could. But, that's the thing, right? Some people of color do leave places like this, because it's unbearable. They've got no one like them, but all these other folks, they stay, because they don't have to move. Everyone's like them already. They don't have any reason to move or to know it's any different."

 I feel like I just butchered this aside that Aaron said, and I wanted to remember what my dad said after that, but I can't remember. I only remember us talking about how beautiful America was after that, looking at all these great valleys and hills and rivers. It's like the vision of the American landscape you think in your head.  

Then Aaron and my dad went back and forth talking about various things in politics. I just kept thinking about the cashier at 7-11 being stuck where she was. It reminded me of how I felt at times in Delaware, wanting to be out of the state and somewhere else. At the same time, it wasn't that bad, or was it? Maybe it's more diverse in Delaware than I think. I guess we'll see tomorrow. 

 

 

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© 2019 by Pirooz Kalayeh