Freedom to Wander

It’s always strange wandering a grocery store away from home, and never in the way I expect it to be. I have seen wine tastings, but never a booth for it like at Costco. I wish someone had been there so I could see what kind of samples they gave out, but it’s odd to see in a country where there isn’t a drinking culture. People drink, but not the way they do in the States or in Mexico.

I did like the cooling bags, just free insulated bags for use in the store hanging near the ice cream. It kind of makes sense with how hot it is here, but it makes more sense to sell them. I remember Alton Brown and his episode on how to shop, focusing on keeping the food cool and separate. Even with what little travel I have done, I’m sure Americans really take the no contamination thing too far. The immune system needs to be challenged sometimes.

The last thing that really stood out was the chickens. Pre-cooked, and smelling delicious, but with the head still on. I was half drawn to it and half repulsed. I’ve tried to go vegetarian in the past and my body rejected it. It just makes me feel bad. Still, I know where meat comes from, but seeing the face of dinner will never be completely normal to me. Maybe if I had grown up on a farm, but I’m used to some distance between animals and meat. I’m not sure where the line between them is, but there is definitely a point when it’s just food. Strange how I can disassociate the two so easily.

I found a place that served marrow the other day. It was okay, but nothing really special. Just meat and bone cooked forever and served with broth. I preferred the runny omelet with shrimp. I’ve started wandering again, trying random places, pointing at things. Only a few weeks left of school, but it helps to be able to see the end.

I’m getting a little better at my Mandarin, but I’ve been too busy to really study. I have summer camp this week, working 9 to 4. It’s not long, but somehow it is very draining. It’s been a lot of fun, less structured, but still with form. We were watching the Goonies last week and one of the other teachers pointed out that these kids are really never without supervision.

To me, the treasure and danger of the Goonies is myth, but wandering with your friends was how I grew up. I remember riding bikes with my friends around the neighborhood. The time we went into the storm overflow and followed it until the concrete ended. I turned back at that point, but other kids didn’t. Wandering the woods in New York, eating berries and trying to avoid the swamp. Going to turtle pond with my cousins, and the time I went alone. Riding to the bluffs, walking the beach, fishing off the bridge, and a thousand other memories of a life without supervision.

There was always the specter of my mom in the background, and one or two memories where I went further than I should have, but that was rare. Mostly, it was just what we did. Here, in a big city, that really isn’t an option. There isn’t the space to wander, or any real outdoors that kids could go alone. Maybe things have changed back home since I was a kid too, but there are still a lot of places that have the space to allow freedom.

Kids should be allowed some freedom, but what I think of freedom was born in another world. Even my sister’s kids may never have that, living in a planned community. It’s too hard to say, and the world seems to have become a darker place, or maybe we have just shined a light in the darkness. It’s hard to know for sure. That’s the thing about traveling, not the answers you find but the questions you thought you were already done with.

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2 Responses to Freedom to Wander

  1. 😊 Chicken! I have the same reaction to fish cooked with the heads on, James. For pretty much the same reason- I don’t really want my food to have a personality. One of the things I love about the Philippines is that children play in the ocean, or the coconut groves, or in the street, without supervision. They take care of each other, and set up their own ‘pecking order,’ just like we did, growing up. Most of the play I’ve observed involves emulating their parents- their toys are fishing nets and floats, and the only time I saw any concern was when one eight-year-old got his Dad’s machete, because they wanted to break open some coconuts! Why have Americans become so AFRAID?
    Hope to see your next post soon, James. Take care!


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