Of differences and similarities…

…and the abilities that bring us closer together

Los Angeles, the city of Angels, and San Francisco, the center of flower-power, we spent some great days there. Like real tourists we walked on the Walk of Fame, meeting Shrek and Darth Vader, we enjoyed a day at Venice Beach and Santa Monica, we took pictures of the Hollywood Sign, we walked to (not over) the Golden Gate Bridge on a glorious sunny day, we walked up and down the hills and up again, we went to prison and got out again, and we sang along with Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke.

We had the most beautiful weather – who wouldn’t enjoy 26 degrees in winter? And some good food. Especially, the Spaghetti Bolognese we had after coming back from Alcatraz where we learned on our audio guide tour that the inmates had it…

Yet, I was also struck by the atmosphere, especially in Los Angeles. I don’t know how to put it differently, but there were some really weird and creepy people around. And not only in Hollywood, but also in Venice Beach. And in general, we got the impression that yes, you can dress in whatever way you like, but also, you just dress so differently and weirdly in order to get attention. Or am I just too normal? Am I not getting the free-spirit style? I always thought of myself as being different. Not in a “oh, I am so exceptional” way, but just not going with the flow.

When I was about 13 years old, I would deliberately buy baggy pants-style jeans in the boy’s section of H&M while those super-tight Miss Sixty jeans were totally hip. I also wouldn’t put on any kind of make-up when my classmates would. But maybe that was also because even if I tried it, it would never look good anyway. And basically, that is still true today! My hair will be all over the place, the red lipstick will faint off after a short time and I will mess up my mascara after half an hour because I forgot that I actually put some on… And no, I keep on wearing my glasses because in contrast to most people, I like them. And the dress that looked so nice in the shop or when worn by Emma Watson does not look good at all on me. And I am at war with high heels. I just don’t get why I should wear shoes that will hurt really badly after some time. But wait, there is more. At the age of 16 I needed to explain to my mum that I really don’t want to go out with my friends. Not because I don’t drink alcohol at all or I don’t like dancing, but because I just didn’t enjoy these age-typical activities. After all, I am not like everyone else – am I?

Am I boring, stuffy, too well-behaved? Well, I would say to stand up against what seems to be the norm at the age of 16 and put forward a different set of priorities needs some courage. And to be honest, travelling the world, hanging out with my sister, walking our dog, singing and playing the guitar and piano, or shaking your whole body while doing Zumba – these priorities have worked well for me.

So, why am I telling you all of this? Because looking at my life and what I think of others and myself always gets challenged with every new day and new people I meet. And this time walking along the “weird and creepy” people in L.A. and the homeless in Seattle makes me think. About that even though we all come from different backgrounds and we might look differently or speak differently, we all are driven by the same things. We have dreams, we fear, we are worried and we wish for friends or people who take care of us or who we can take care of. Like the waitress in the Café in Santa Monica told me, she is just looking for a man who will stand by her side no matter what. Or our roommate in the hostel who came to the States to find out if this American boy is her true love.

On first sight, we might look different. Either in the way we dress or how we behave, out-going or shy and silent. And sometimes those things that aren’t expressed are the most important ones. Listening to what isn’t said. And still even though we might be driven by the same basic feelings we are different – in the way we put them in order and prioritize them. And also in the way we choose to live our life. Everyone has a special ability. Some people have the ability to really listen, some are good in telling stories, some people’s laughter makes us laugh as well, others brighten up our lives with their clothes, some people are like a calm anchor and some just know when to put their hand on our shoulders to support and comfort us. I have met all these people und even more. And even though I am not too sure what ability I have I know it is special, and yet very similar to these ones.

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