Monday, August 13, 2012

Then and Now 43 - Bored

Then and Now 43 - Bored
Time: Mid-2007, single and at my apartment.

I went out one day from my apartment to go see some sights around a single subway stop in the city. There were several places I had the opportunity to choose from, but I was most interested in seeing two of them: some kind of civic center or arena, and a community center.

I got to the stop and had only walked for a few minutes before I came across a nostalgic place: I was on the sidewalk walking up a four lane street, two each way, with a long line of trees running down a median in the center. To my left were several large houses, not apartment buildings like the ones I was used to seeing in my poorer neighborhood. It looked exactly like the street that I lived next to while living at my grandma's house back in America. Even funnier, when I walked up the street into the center of a busy commercial district, one of the first businesses I saw was a steakhouse with her name on it. I smiled broadly and chuckled, then took a picture to show her for the next time I was back in America.

I walked down the busy street through several rows of stores. I still remember seeing several coffee houses, a couple of little independent convenience stores, and a bar with some college kids standing outside. I zigzagged up and right several times, basically trying to wander to the civic center, and within minutes, I found the place I was looking for.

Some construction was taking place behind a short metal gate and under a long metal awning, and across the street was the sports center which was unfortunately still under construction. It was about three or four stories tall and looked like it would someday house some great music shows or sporting events, but for that day, I had to hold off on seeing anything more interesting than crews erecting walls and messing with wiring.

Despite the setback, I continued through the construction zone and headed straight until the buildings got shorter, and I started to get funnier and funnier looks from the locals, who were obviously unused to having a foreigner walking around that non-tourist area. I stopped at a convenience store to get a drink, and asked the boss there if she knew where the community center was. She pointed me in the correct direction, and I headed off. Before I got there, I came upon a very wide street that forked into two directions. There was a wall of trees on one side of the road, and on the other were two shopping centers, one right next to the other. I think this area and the malls were on my list, so I went in to take a look.

And for the only time in my life abroad, I started to get bored.

I think by that point, that I was starting to push a hundred shopping malls and department stores visited, and try as I did to find something special about this area, they were just stores. I went into one of the buildings and walked up the stairs inside, past a huge number of stores that I completely don't remember. Then I went downstairs to the other shopping place, and rode an escalator inside to the top. It was kind of interesting because all of the walls were made of glass and transparent to the world outside, but I still found it pretty dull to be looking around yet more clothes stores. It was looking to be a bust that day, and I very briefly wondered if I was just going to spend the rest of my traveling days going from one shopping place to another.

I struck that thought down immediately, and focused even more heavily on finding something that I wanted to see. Thoughts like that were what turned me into the slug that I was at my bud's aunt's place, in those first two weeks abroad. And even though it takes several weeks of constant negative thinking to make those emotions automatic, I wasn't about to let them pull me down then, even for a single day. So I left the shopping center and headed a couple of blocks down, and found the community center.

The lobby was huge, but sparsely staffed. There were a couple of pamphlets on racks by the door, and a few signs advertising what was going on that day. By this point, my local language skills had gotten much, much better, so it was only a few seconds after I read the welcome sign that I saw an art exhibit was going on a floor or two up. I went up and saw some very well-dressed locals showing off some pictures hanging on the walls. They welcomed me heartily and let me roam to enjoy the exhibit.

The pictures were quite stunning. One was a nature piece in the old local style, another was a picture of Jesus who looked kind of like a local, and there were several beautiful nature pieces of mountains, a forest and the ocean. I took out my camera, then hesitated, not knowing if it was ok. As I was asking one of the artists if I could take a picture, I simultaneously saw a sign that said it wasn't ok.

The boss of the exhibit overheard us, then came over to me and said I could take a picture or two. I thanked them, then snapped a few photos to show my friends later. I headed home shortly after, happy knowing that I didn't let a good day go to waste, despite the middle stumble.

As for today...

I woke up at 7:00.
I played video games.
My wife and son woke up, so I turned off the game.
I played cars with my son.
I ate lunch.
I prepared teaching lessons.
I watched TV.
I built my son a fort, then roughhoused with him inside.
I played cars with him.
I watched internet movies with him.
I surfed the net.
My son fell asleep.
I played video games.
I cleaned up the floor and table.
I did the dishes.
I folded and put away dry clothes.
I slept.

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