When I went to Papua New Guinea in 2009, I met a villager who asked me the name of my homeland. I told her the USA and she asked, “The United States of Africa?” Then she smiled and tried to sell me the head of a pig. A dead pig. It was on a platter. We were surrounded by shoeless people and fresh-really-fresh vegetables. I think about her all the time. And I think about who I was when I met her: dirty, curious, spontaneous, fearless (Okay, not totally fearless– there were warring tribes and machetes everywhere and maybe I slept with my flashlight). I vowed to always be at least a part of that girl no matter what. I came home convinced I’d never wear makeup again. I wanted to forever be a traveling hippie.
And then I hired a lady to clean my apartment.
I was okay with it for a while because, as I learned after I posted about her a few weeks ago, I joined a very large club of dirty Angelenos. I learned the rule that everyone in LA has a house cleaner but nobody in LA admits to having a house cleaner. I got plenty of emails saying, “Thank you for saying something. I’ve been feeling so guilty about it.”
I felt like a maid pioneer, like I was maid to have a maid (sorry).
But then she broke my toothbrush holder.
It was a very special toothbrush holder that sticks to the wall so that it doesn’t take up counter space. I bought it at CB2. I swear this will be important information if I haven’t lost you yet. The house cleaner didn’t say anything about it. She simply moved my toothbrush to my shower and pretended like it didn’t happen. I mean, she broke my toothbrush holder.
But this really wasn’t something I could tell anyone. I wanted to complain about the injustice! I wanted to tell people how rude it is for a maid to break something and not even apologize. But who goes to work and says, “Oh my god, you guys, my maid like totally broke my toothbrush holder.” I thought about that girl staring into the eyes of that pig head in Papua New Guinea and complaining to that villager that maids really shouldn’t break ceramic toothbrush holders because there are very few convenient CB2 locations, and….
WHO HAVE I BECOME!?
HELP!? I am an adult. A member of society. A member with a maid and an iPhone. I don’t wear the same clothes every day anymore (mostly), and I have brushed my hair within the last 72 hours. WHaAAAAaoooaaaaaa?! I am the person I was running away from when I left to travel.
I need to head out with a backpack. I need to stop painting my nails. I need to dance to some drums and eat something that could possibly give me diarrhea. STAT.
Once I realized that I’m a maid hirer with a broken toothbrush holder, it opened my eyes to who else I am. Here are some expressions I have uttered just this week, expressions that do not pass the Papua New Guinean test, expressions that would make me hate myself if I weren’t going to psychology school to learn how to not hate myself:
-I can’t believe Starbucks is out of Spinach/Feta wraps again.
-I have to call you back. I can’t concentrate at the self check-out while I’m on the phone.
-I can’t believe my favorite pop-up restaurant is closing.
-I’ll take the juevos rancheros with tofu instead of eggs. And can you put the sauce on the side?
-I’m not eating carbs until summer is over.
-Should I get my teeth whitened?
-I really think my hair should frame my face a little more
-Let’s sign up for a 10k
-I have such a craving for an oaky wine.
-I just can’t keep up with all my texts and emails.
-Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?
I just want to apologize to that New Guinean villager for not keeping the promise I made to her as I stared into her dead pig’s eyes. I mean, I didn’t make a literal promise to her, but if we had been in a class together and she had been able to write English, she would have definitely written in my yearbook, “Don’t Change.” But I did change. I’m on the other side. I will come back, my friend. And I will be wearing my Barack Obama T-shirt for 8 days in a row like I was then. And I will have dreads in my hair after not moving it for nine months. And I will not care about the Starbucks’ menu or a dumb toothbrush holder. But I might bring up teeth whitening just so we can have a funny conversation. And I might also try to describe pizza to you once again, as that one was memorable. And I will eat that magic sauce you offer me, even though I know it’s just soy sauce and not magic at all. Or maybe totally magic.
It will happen again, as I am still that wandering, wondering girl. I’m just in a phase of the First World for a bit. But not for long. Now that I’ve tasted two personalities, I can walk the scraggly line in between them and one day hone in on a balance. Until then, I will continue to enjoy those spinach/feta wraps from Starbucks. Surprisingly good. Yep, still hate myself for writing that. I should quit that psychology school.