The Waffle House waitress told me some guy “got his arm broke and nose all bloodied up” yesterday at the Cookeville Wal-Mart. It’s amazing what people will do for stuff they don’t really need, or at least stuff they have convinced themselves they need, at low low prices. That’s Black Friday for you; the infamous day after Thanksgiving where all the stores do crazy sales, for those of you overseas people who have no clue what I’m talking about.
Being back in America is weird. I mean, it’s always different, but this time it’s more strange than usual. It’s like I’m seeing things through a different filter. Normally I’m here for a few weeks to visit and then I return to Cape Town, my home. Now I’m here, and not sure when or if I will go back over to Cape Town, still sure I am supposed to be here for now but not sure what is next. I feel like an alien of some sort. And people here don’t really know what to say to someone who doesn’t know what is next. I think it freaks them out. And I’m a bit freaked out at times. So, I’m a bit freaked out, freaking people out and it’s all a bit freaky. But I think it’s going alright.
Thanksgiving was funny; the mixture of eating loads of food I haven’t eaten in years, and jet lag, and a bunch of family that I haven’t seen in ten years, and little cousins I’ve never even met was a great concoction. At one point I was sitting beside my grandpa. I said, “Papa, I don’t know a lot of these people.” He lovingly patted me on the leg and answered in a really loud voice, “Ryan, I don’t know half of them!” That was great. I later became appointed his official translator because his hearing has gone from bad to worse and he was struggling to hear people. Someone would say something to him and he would turn to me and say, “Was what they just said important?” I would either sum up what they said, repeating it loudly, or just say, “Not at all!” That was good clean fun.
Then later, I was chilling on the hammock with my cousin Thomas, who I’d never met before. Thomas is seven, I think.
Me, “Hey Thomas, what’s your brother’s name?”
Thomas just looked at me with a confused look, like I am an alien. Seeing that I feel like an alien, or could have had some turkey stuck in my beard, or might have been speaking funny, I pointed at the kid in question, “Your brother over there.”
Thomas realized that I had no clue what I was talking about and felt pity towards me, “That’s not my brother.”
Me, “Oh! Really? I thought he was your brother all day!”
Me, “Well, who is he?”
Thomas, “He’s Burt.”
Me, “Burt huh?”
Thomas, nodding his head, “Yep.”
Me, “Well, who is Burt?”
Thomas, very confident, “He’s Eli’s brother.”
Knowing very well that I was the only brother of Eli at that Thanksgiving gathering, I just allowed Thomas to be “right”.
Me, “Aaaah! Ok! That makes sense. Thanks!”
Thomas, “You’re welcome.”
So thanks to Thomas and Papa, I didn’t feel so bad for not knowing all my family.