There are some habits in life which can be hard to ditch: drinking, smoking, being foreign - these are just some examples of things that can oftentimes become permanently ingrained within the normal individual (and most likely the abnormal and freakish). Take your beer-chugging "best friend" - your Saturday go-to wingman, who is basically white trash company for any other day of the week. He's an alcoholic - you're a dickhead. No dramas. Or - how about your $40 "Tuesday" cleaner from Costa Rica? Pretty foreign lady, that one. You are wary she may never fully adapt to her new country, but you're not really complaining about her prices either. Or even your permanently stained index finger, which is now the first (and possibly the most disgusting) physical sign that you take your relationship with nicotine way too seriously?
Yellow fingers aside, I have experienced all of the above situations at least once. My reproach was minimal: I was too self-consumed to read into the signs of addiction. That is - until today. The revelation that I might be stuck in a pattern of foreign habits despite the shiny citizenship certificate which metaphorically hangs in a golden frame inside my head (…….) hit me forcefully as I bought my first box of Cruskits. For those unaware of what Cruskits may be, I present you the evidence:
I know what you may be thinking (apart from WTF): how does a box of Cruskit crackers make one consider their level of foreign-ness? How can such a delicate, upsurging flavour of lightweight crispiness do that to a lovely young girl? Was it perhaps the sleek, eye-catching packaging that opened her mind to the deeper questions in life? Did she follow the serving suggestion pictures depicted in the back of the box? (I did.) And - why can't I find any milk in any supermarket shelves? Will Brisbane flood again? Do they sell crackers in Brazil? Do they sell crack? WHO IS TEENAGE JESUS?!??
Don't be so afflicted. The thing is, when you are foreign there are certain things that you automatically overlook and from which one may detach themselves. For me, one of those things are fancy supermarket crackers. Another thing is any type of modern hair removal technique other than warm honey Brazilian wax. Again, this was a revelation - call it insight - which hit me all at once in the course of the last 24 hours (I am still notably shocked with my findings). I'm not going to go into detail, but for the first time in my life I found a substitute to my normal foreign course of action, which is: to buy healthy tasteless crackers and normal waxing equipment. And - for the first time in a long time, I have experienced the sublime (if not somewhat surreal) space of mind of someone that goes completely out of their 'cultural routine'. I also have notably smoother legs.
This may all sound bananas - it probably is - but there are things in life which we don't think twice about: in fact, we bitch-slap active thinking right out of the picture. We kill choice. We annihilate conscience. We, we… we murder the possibility of change. But beware: habits can be deceiving.
Habits can be deceiving
They really can. An example springs to mind: I had never really straightened my hair with my very own hair straightener until my boat arrival* in this country (my hair had gone considerably curly from the humidity and the high seas, which made it smell of salt, so I took the plunge.) I instead spent hours of my youth perfecting a bobby-pin hairdo which supposedly was meant to get my hair straighter than a 13-year-old's chest. But it never did. Here is the hairdo for reference:
This was of course a cultural behaviour which I inherited from my darling mother. Likewise, I have watched with terror as close friends and family go into an expensive Italian restaurant and order ravioli carbonara, only to order the same ravioli carbonara at another expensive Italian restaurant down the road. (Note to the reader: the author defines "expensive restaurant" to be any dining facility in which cars and delivery windows are not involved.) I have nothing against the damn ravioli carbonara if you ask me - I can only just wish people were more adventurous sometimes.
Adventurous: (adj.) 1. A quality of those who may embark on an adventure; going completely nuts.
2. Crazy, unusual.
3. Possessed of a free-spirit.
"A creature of habit": this old adage does not lie. I recently spoke to a friend and discovered a dirty old habit of hers: she told me she would never call people she hadn't spoken to for a long time. That was just something she never did. I can understand one might not want to look desperate to the eyes of their Year 8 comrade whom one may have enjoyed many a bong with, but things like that can change your life! You may find so many things in common with a friend you haven't spoken to in ages - or at the very least, score some free drugs and finally get back that old jumper you left at theirs in 1997.
The greatest advantage of living away from home is that I was forced to mentally strip back everything I considered normal and was shoved with entirely new social, economical and individual perceptions of rightness. As a result, I have realised there is no such thing: everything we surround ourselves with - every motto, every night we spend at home doing pretty much the same thing we did the night before - every phone call, every carton of milk we pick up from the shops (and where the bloody hell are they?!?) - these things and situations are choices, which if repeated transmute into habits, which - if repeated again, solely through the years, become our lives. This is 2011, and honest to God - I refuse to keep eating them tasteless crackers.
I guess the moral of the story is that we should never underestimate the power of change: your alcoholic friend may also prove to be a long-lasting Bingo night companion, your cleaner may insert herself into politics and become the next Karl Marx… and you… you may continue smoking because you're a weak, unmotivated, careless individual who can't even wash your own bedsheets.
*I didn't actually arrive by boat, I just like perpetuating the myth.