Friday, February 1, 2008

More Similarities Than Differences

As you may know from earlier posts, one of my favorite haunts is the neighborhood Starbucks. I often sit there to write, grade essays, prepare for class, and read. I started this habit when I was a stay-at-home mom with a toddler son who spent his entire day with me. Often after dinner, I handed my son, David Malik, to his father and hit the front door; at break neck speed I'd make my way to the neighborhood Starbucks. Many years ago, in conjunction with the manager of Starbucks, I ran a neighborhood reading program, "Reading Under the Coffee Tree," where moms and toddlers would gather to read stories aloud to preschoolers.

As I sat in my favorite chair in Starbucks this past Tuesday, a Moslem woman, Sarah, wearing a hijab, sat across from me chatting on her cellphone. An infant was asleep in a stroller parked beside her. She ended her telephone conversation and immediately began to engage me in a conversation in precise and calculated English. Inevitably our conversation centered around children, being at home, the difficulty in finding good childcare, her academic career, my teaching, etc.

Although Sarah is at least 20 years younger than I am, I noted how the challenges that she is faced with are no different than the challenges I faced as a mother with a newborn, 18 years ago. Like me, she, too, finds refuge in the neighborhood Starbucks. Unlike me, she walks to the Starbucks because her customs do not permit her to drive.

We exchanged telephone numbers. She exacted a promise from me to visit her in her home because it is a one mile walk to my home from hers. Sarah pulled back her hijab to straighten it out. I would have never guessed that her dark brown, curly hair sported blonde streaks.

I smiled and told her that we are both rebels in our own way. She laughed as her husband pulled up and rushed in to help her with their infant son.

I know that Sarah, a Saudi Arabian woman who has only been in the U.S. 6 months, has a lot in common with me. We are both women. We are both mothers. We are both racialized minorities in a white dominant, patriarchal society.

1 comment:

Judy said...

You are an amazing friend magnet!! Kudos on the blog!