Two weeks ago I had to turn in my final assignment for Cultural Anthropology class. This assignment consisted of spending several hours in a culture not my own and then, basically, writing about it. The trouble in this situation is that I am a wallflower.
I can happily research and write, but when it comes to stepping out of my shell and talking to other people … well … Let’s just say I’m socially awkward. (In my defense, I think that most writers are.) So you can safely assume that I was dreading this assignment.
But the actual experience was wonderful.
I got to the Basque restaurant Leku Ona intent on trying the food and meeting a Basque person in order to observe and interview them for this paper. I got there slightly early and was a little lost, wondering where I should go and what I should do, but then this group of people walked in.
I apologize for not remembering all of their names, but the gist of their story was this; one couple was celebrating retirement by touring the United States for three months and the other two women were friends who had known them prior to their move to Oregon. Anyway, this group spotted me and welcomed me to sit with them, and — going outside of my comfort zone — I did.
Personally, I think Providence was watching out for me. Left to my own devices, I doubt I would have gotten what I needed for my assignment.
The man, Don, was a retired Pediatrician and his wife was absolutely the most engaging personality I’ve yet to meet. When they discovered why I was there, they set about trying to help me. They chatted to the waitress, who got the very Basque chef to come out and talk to us about his country. And the big kicker came at the end of the meal, when we received an invitation to go into the kitchen to see the chef stuff squid and make black sauce.
All in all, it was an incredible experience. I’m hoping that one day I can be as gracious and giving of my time and table space as these wonderful people.