Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A happy non-tourist

I was mistaken for a tourist the other day. At first, it felt like a back-handed compliment, caught me off-guard. We were walking through a corridor of shops at the factory outlets and a kiosk of brightly colored cloth drew me in. The business owner, in contrast to the vibrant colors of her product, dressed in black with long dark hair, approached us with an accent I couldn't identify. Turns out she was from Israel, but more recently, from Pennsylvania.

"Are you a tourist?" Her tone was friendly, inquisitive. "Ah, no. Certainly not." I smiled as I emphasized the not, wondering if I had succumbed as a tourist would to her product.

"Really? Where are you from?" She sounded incredulous now, and I wasn't sure why. I didn't think I looked that out of place.

"Yes, really. I live in Seattle."

"No way! How do you look so happy? Your bright pink hat, your smile, how do you stay happy living in such a place?" Her face scrunched in mild disgust at the indirect reference to Seattle.

I stammered a little, trying to respond to a question I'd never been asked before. "Well, I try not to base my happiness on the weather, for one."

She nodded, giving pause to this thought. "It's so awful, though," she lamented. "I've been out here for a few years, but each year it's getting worse - harder to stay here. I think I'm finished. I want outta here. I need sun. And people seem so unhappy, depressed. They dress all in dark."

I bit back a smile. Not entirely true, I thought, but certainly some truth to that conclusion. "Yeah, it's challenging sometimes. It would be nice to get more sunshine... but there are other things to look for, other things that keep me going, make me happy." She looked at me expectantly. "Like my faith in God."

She nodded, pointing to her sales associate, "She's a really good Christian, too. Goes to church every Sunday. A happy girl, too."

I smiled at the younger girl who had introduced me to all the uses of the product, which as it turned out, could be worn as a skirt or dress in about ten different ways, and she returned the smile. My mom and I stood talking with them for a few more minutes, about Israel and other things, and walked away with a glow on our faces.

So I stand corrected. It seems there is at least one instance in which being mistaken for a tourist is actually a compliment.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that is nutty! You could've said you were an alien sent by God...heehee