Smile

William is one of the few people whom I kept in touch with after high school, although I haven’t talked to him in a few years. William and I were on the swim team and lifeguards and we snuck orange slices into Mr. Brandt’s physics class where we shared a desk during our senior year. William is one of the most genuinely nice people I’ve ever met and he has this smile that is unforgettable. It’s not that William’s smile outshined anyone else’s but that it was always present on his face. He would often be staring into space, grinning widely.

On more than one occasion, a gentleman, usually under the influence of a few light beers, will tell me to smile. They often assume I am scowling when really I am just trying to decide on whether to eat tortillas with shredded cheese or uncooked garlic bread when I get home. I am not angry but people seem to think it based on my facial expression. It was always a bit discerning that my face naturally formed a frown.

As I prepare to return to the U.S., I’ve tried to take stock of my character changes and try to predict how these new parts of myself will play out in my old life. Truthfully, I am terrified that there are too many changes and the familiarity that I’ve longed for back home will no longer be. So, I hope to explore some of the things I’ve noticed on this blog in the following few weeks – as well as when I – return as a way for me to truly digest the person I am now. Maybe I am not so different; maybe I am an entirely new person. We’ll see.

Regardless, one of the changes that I’ve noticed is that I smile more. I could be sitting listening to music as I wait for the taxi to leave and there is a smile. Or reading a book before I fall asleep. Or climbing a hill while I am running. I am such a smiley person. In fact, I am sporting a half grin as I write this.

People used to make fun of William for his cheesy smile but I always admired him for it. I assumed that a person who smiled that much was probably pretty self aware and content. I was envious. Now, I am the one smiling for no apparent reason and I can confirm life is better this way.

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One thought on “Smile

  1. The effect of cultural influence and the “smile” factor is an interesting one. Lesotho is making you smile more, which is good because, unless it’s the dopey kind you mention, that’s what Americans expect. We are a “projecting-happiness” culture. I enjoyed living in China and Germany because there the expectation for public facial expression is reserved seriousness, or even vague hostility. I didn’t feel the need to smile unless I felt like it, which suited me just fine. There’s no telling what effect coming back will have on you; only time will tell, but remember that you’re surroundings will change and those “habits” you acquired may too.

Discsuss, please

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