Wednesday, June 13, 2007

the dry weave

Having lunch with JayBird today harbourside and overlooking the reclaimed land this side of the bay and just knowing when I am closer to Melbourne than Madang that I am going to miss palm fronds, frangis and women who look me in the eye and say "I Know Who You Are because I Am PNG Too ... now put that flower in my hair please."

Everwhere I have ever lived and ever been and ever seen and ever fallen in love with and ever fallen apart in and ever picked up my stardust in, in every single one of those places I was aware that I was deeply different. In physicality. In all the physical features that make me Melanesian. A Highlander Islander.

And that was ok. It was fine. It was perfect. Just another of my "uniqueness" of what makes ricebag so different so special so chocolate. It was a badge I wore for a war I had never fought. The Right to be Universal. And I wore it with pride. I Can Be Me Anywhere. It's the dry weave, the flack and the flow, the midnight certainty when your bones tell you you are you and all the flesh doesn't matter when your soul is still yours.

But it does matter. It does matter. It matters. I wish it didn't and I never thought it did or it should. But it was when I came "home" that I began to understand, that it does.

It matters when the people around you don't look like you and you don't know what it feels like to experience the converse. The truth is - maybe everybody needs to understand that their phsyical body comes from somewhere, a physical place, where other people are from too. It's that belonging thing.

I wish that wasn't true. I do thrive and grow and love and need to live in all kinds of environments where there are all kinds of people who look different from me and look different from each other ... and often ricebag becomes more and better in all of them. But I never feel RECOGNISED ... I am never recognised, as another-of-all-the-others rather than an other-to-the-others ... not until I come to Papua New Guinea. Until I come home. home. home.

And it has taken a life-time of wandering to understand that I do need that Physical Recognition. I need someone to look at me and see their own skin, their own scars, their own face. And now I understand why.

A persons "identity" isn't purely something which develops in isolation of their heritage just because their geography says it should. Even never having lived in PNG for 25 years, something in my neurons starts firing when I hit the soil of this floss-bitten land and they send messages from my senses to my gut which proclaim the one thing in this whole world that I truly understand to be mine - my identity. My own self-identity is not just a product of the experiences I have craved and bled and embedded ... it almost doesn't even belong to just me, it's part of a greater whole, of a greater human understanding - it is flushed with the reasons and the songs that can only come from a physical land with a physical peopling.

As the product of the age of the Self, 'finding ME' has been the one constant in this enduring journey of a life for ricebag. I now understand that I am not a baby from the same place of where-ever-she-lays-her-head-can-be-her-home. I am a baby from this island. My physical body tells me that every day that I hug my knee or comb my hair or rub my neck or wash my hands or look in the mirror - my body tells me that. And now my heart knows it too.

These last 2 years in PNG have brought me that. Of being able to walk and drive and peak and plough and laugh and breathe and weep and wander in this place where when someone else looks at me ... I Look Like Them. And I love that. I love that I have a place in this world where I am me, and at the same time, I am also them.


Anonymous Christine Copland said...

I say/ write this all the time - you are incredible with words. I find you describing MY feelings/ thoughts in your poetic ramblings of your life.

14 June, 2007 17:18  

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