I decided to dedicate space on my blog for what I now dub, the Natalie Chronicles—those crazy, funny experiences that occur during the course of living my life.
What follows is such a one.
Most days if it is not too cold out, I try to go walking around a lake that I love in my neighborhood. Walking in nature is extremely therapeutic for me: I get exercise; I am able to feast on the visuals around me including ducks, a resolute crane, the trees, sunsets, the tranquility of the lake and more; take spontaneous photos of my surroundings as I am moved; and as icing on the cake, I greet those I encounter when I walk—just to share the joy of the experience and connect on a human to human level.
I have been walking this lake for years and the greeting habit has morphed over the years from a tentative nod to a very congenial smile or a mouthed, “hi”. Take my word for it when I say it has been a growth opportunity for me. But one aspect of the experience had been a challenge for years–I had been having a hard time getting eye contact from older Asian people and I just didn’t understand why. That is, until I asked my friend who is Korean about it and she helped me understand it’s a cultural thing. So my expectations have since been adjusted.
But recently I’ve been seeing this older Asian man (might be 80…real old) on my walks and he has been smiling and waving at me when I pass by. The first time it happened I thought I knew him. I don’t. So I have been so amused that this guy seems genuinely happy to see me. I assumed he had been seeing me greet others?
Two weeks ago, as I’m out walking I see him again and he is smiling widely and I can tell he wants me to stop. So I stop. And he holds out his hand to shake mine. I smile and shake his hand and he says to me, “Every day I see you. And you are a woman, And you’re so tall!” And he keeps repeating, “so tall”. O-kay?
Then the unexpected. He hugs me!!! At first I’m thinking, oh oh, is this a creepy old Asian man? But from the look on his face, he just seemed so darn thrilled by the fact that he is in the presence of what to him must seem like an Amazon. He shakes my hand some more, hugs me a couple more times, and I just reply, ” yes, I’m really tall. So nice to meet you.” And we part ways.
For the unacquainted with me in the flesh, I am over 6 feet tall. But I have never quite caused THIS much of a stir.
I must admit I did go and sanitize my hands as soon as I got to my car. One can never be too careful. But I thought, God you really do have a sense of humor. I wanted to engage with Asians on my walks and here you send uber happy Asian man!
When I shared the story with one of my friends, her response cracked me up. In her words, “I think he must’ve thought you to be like a Wonder Woman! So tall and beautiful out on a regular walk like a regular person. It must’ve made his day to hug a movie star!” Hysterical to me, but maybe she is onto something.
Note: Photos copyright Natalie Jobity