What just happened?
It’s rainy and chilly.
I was out shopping and running errands.
A worker in one of the stores made a comment about being cold.
I vigorously nodded my head and briefly touched the back of my hand (popsicle in temperature) to the back of hers . . .
and then the world turned upside down.
I caught a strange look in her eye. And said, “Oh, I’m sorry.”
Even though she didn’t look at all angry or upset that I’d touched her,
I apologized out of instinct.
She said, “Oh no, it’s not that . . . “
I could have said “Oh, okay, well, have a nice day” and moved along.
But I just hesitated just long enough and she leaned in and said,
“Truthfully, white people here just don’t usually act that normal.”
and then the world flipped back over and I was shocked.
and confused. and angry.
and ashamed that I was “white people” if that’s how they act.
Is this girl a student from out of town who is sensitive and experiencing mountain culture shock? But who are all these white folk in Keyser who are so aware of skin color that they can’t act casual?
I managed to actually laugh out loud and say “Well, I am sorry for *that*!”
in my most sincere and “normal” voice.
But now I don’t feel normal. I feel really raw. And aware.
And a lot sad.
But a little happy that she was able to
and felt safe enough to articulate so quickly.
All I know was 50 or 60 years ago I’d have gotten myself arrested or worse.