Inspirational thoughts and random writings from the alumni and friends of Quad-Cities Christian Writers Conference.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Look Again

By Kristi Paxton

At first glance, my daughter’s Brooklyn neighborhood is disgusting. I wove my way down broken sidewalks as discarded papers blew across my path. Inside a tiny cafĂ©, I feasted my eyes on authentic antique dirt, permanently affixed to the walls with ancient kitchen grease. Can’t you just smell it?

     But I made myself look again and I saw America’s melting pot still simmering on the stove. In one block I found three Chinese bakeries and a kosher deli next door to a grill cook creating made-to-order tacos for breakfast. He knows what his customers will order before they open their mouths.

     Across the street I found a combination of shops to put Mall of America to shame. First was a window full of “fine furs.” Next door a row of Peking ducks garnished the window like swags of Christmas garland. Adjacent to the ducks was a storefront full of wedding dresses. All in a row, just steps between them. A bride could receive a proposal, buy a gown and a fur for the evening, then fling a dozen ducks over her shoulder for the reception, all in a couple of hours.

     And in Midwood Brooklyn, I could assemble supper from fresh produce gathered from one of two gigantic markets, a number of international bakeries and a corner grocery all a half-block walk from my daughter’s apartment. And though the people in the store don’t speak much English, they recognized me and soon knew the products I preferred.

     In my Iowa town, I drive my gas guzzler 20 miles to a big box store where I’m pretty sure nobody will know who I am or what I like.

     After a few days, I came to embrace the colorful clutter that is lower middle class Brooklyn, nothing like the Disneylandish Times Square that pops up when I think of New York City.

     Sometimes it is refreshing to revisit our preconceived notions:

Big cities are unfriendly.

Teenagers are lazy.

Old people are slow.


     Second impressions are becoming my favorite kind.

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