Tuesday, February 14, 2006

toothpaste

“What are you looking forward to the most?” Chad asks.

“Indonesian toothpaste,” I respond. Which is true, in the sense that when I get worried about Jakarta, I soothe myself by thinking about Indonesian toothpaste and Indonesian shampoo. What will they look like and smell like? Whenever I travel, even though I like to see museums and monuments, what I really love is going to the supermarket and poking through all the stuff people actually use. It feels like a more intimate way to look at a country.

The other comforting thing is, a place that has toothpaste is a place that sustains life. People get up every day, go to work, do mundane things, and go home. When Jakarta feels like a black hole I’m about to fall into, the thought of personal products sustains me.

“What are you looking forward to?” I ask Chad, whereupon of course he says something worthwhile like “selling my first story.” Then I feel abashed for setting my sights so low. These days my goals are a little drifty, a little hard to pinpoint. Sometimes I allow myself to think about falling in love with reporting again, or finding some totally new calling. But it feels like too much to ask for. Maybe if I don’t look for it, I’ll catch it out of the corner of my eye. Like a gleaming tube of Indonesian Colgate.

2 comments:

Kidu said...

Ishtray! I am so glad you're my friend! I now have a reason to travel again--toothpaste! Judy

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