Inertia and fear in a brown body

My (White) husband was shocked, outraged, and really angry about my experience at the Neighborhood Pub. The thing is, though, that this was a weirdly hilarious experience, but not a terribly strange one. I imagine that my friend who wears a burqa in Chicago probably has many more much worse stories to tell.

This reminds me, too, of how my impressions of cities, towns, and neighborhoods are quite different from those of my White friends. “It’s such a fun town!” my White friends said about our midwestern college town. Ugh, I thought, as I lugged my brown hijabed body around the limestone buildings.

I find that I am not that person who just gets up and goes off to explore cities, towns, and neighborhoods. I grew up belonging in Lahore and then Islamabad. I didn’t have to explain, or to be prepared. (Well, now, social class is another story because Pakistan is a ferociously classist place, and we dangled frantically on the edges of a new middle class while growing up). But here, I find that I often run out of energy to explore, energy of over-being, to reach out across those suspicious divides. It makes me unwilling to get out. To wander. To see the world. Because the world sees me back.

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