I witnessed disorienting amounts of wealth over the weekend. I didn't know it really existed. The puzzle pieces I'd formed of reality and media and fantasy couldn't jam together hard enough to fit altogether in my head. I grew sheepish as I recognized the lack of any personal reference point in the face of it.

Part of the vision of this wealth took place in a massive outdoor tent, perching on stilts so that it stood level although it sat halfway up a luscious green hill. Inside, there were hundreds of people all dancing and drinking under lights and vines and feasting at immaculate place settings; all wearing the most beautiful pressed and tailored and exotic clothing I'd ever seen people actually wear. I sat on the perimeter and watched for hours. It was beautiful despite its foreign flavors.

As I walked away, the lights spilling from the tent cast my silhouette, making my legs look unrealistically long and feminine like an anime characters'. The stars that I'd missed in the city twinkled over me and a lightning bolt in the distance sporadically created an exciting monstrous glow.

I remembered some Joni Mitchell lyrics and sang them to myself out loud:

All the people at this party, they've got a lot of style
they've got stamps from many countries
they've got passport smiles
some are friendly
some are cutting
some are watching it from the wings
some are standin' in the center,
giving to get something

I retreated to a tiny rental car; identical to the one I owned before it was smashed in an accident last December. It felt like home. I opened the book my mother lent me about Hmong immigrants living in Merced, "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down." The humbling chapter I chose provided the leveling I sought. I cried under the yellow dome light at the tenderness of two human beings who reach beyond blame, resentment, and vast cultural differences to provide comfort to one another in the face of tragedy.

Then, like any child suffering overstimulation, I slept deeply in that car seat until it was time to leave.


mim said...

I love Mormon 8:39-39. Particularly the last verse. "Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and afflicted to pass by you and notice them not?"

It is a good reminder to me about keeping things in perspective so that I use my resources well.

Annie said...

Oh Laura, I can't describe how well I relate with you in this story of yours. The way those two disparate things, the party you watched and the chapter you read, affected you and how you felt and what you did in response to both of them sound so much like me. I feel you, friend.