Sunday, April 1, 2007
One Saturday Night in Vienna, Austria
As we climbed the stairs to the third floor, Adinah looked up at me and raised her arms, which means, "Papa, will you carry me?" Since I'm doing this less now--because I think she's old enough to walk, and because she's getting so damn big now that she's heavy--I said, "Why, Adinah?" She stuck out her lower lip, and said, "I'm shy."
We were on our way up to African Jump Night at the WUK, our local anarcho-socialist community center, concert space and kindergarten. Deanie must have sensed that we wouldn't know anyone there. So I did carry her in, and not only did we not know anyone there, but we were practically the first ones at the party--a double-plus nightmare for the shy. Nevermind: my girl and me looked out the window at a big fat moon, until more people started coming in the door.
Anette arrived. I noticed a man with crazy dreads and leather pants--clearly one of the party organizers. A light-brown skinned fellow in an army jacket smiled at us. Another adoptive family--white mom, black daughter and brown son--drifted by. Various turntleneck-clad hipsters and white leftie punks. Some Africans in Dashikis, others with Jamaican knit caps, a few bronzed blonde Euro mommies.
One man introduced himself to the crowd by saying he lives in Upper Austria, and then he read several poems (in English) about being black and African. Then a statuesque white woman and a black man gave a fairly desultory dance performance. And a band played: three percussionists and a guitarist. At times, they reminded me a little of Amadou and Mariam, but honestly, I know so little about African music, it was hard for me to judge it.
Still, judge it I did. I wondered why the black men in the band were all wearing traditional African clothes: did they think they needed to perform "african-ness" for the honkies in the crowd? And I began to suspect that the white man on congas was showing off and soloing needlessly, and I asked myself if this wasn't actually a Western/Northern/paleface vice (as opposed to a simple case of obnoxious musicianship).
I didn't really interrogate the whole thing because it was easy to just have a good time. Everyone was so friendly, from the five year old kid who came over and struck up a conversation with me (he turned out to be one of the two adopted kids I had seen before), to the guys selling plates of rice and plantains. Plus, Adinah very quickly got over her shyness and started spinning around in the middle of the dance floor before anyone else had started dancing. She asked me to catch her if she started to fall and then she was giggling and staggering and twirling around the place, with me scuttling awkwardly after her with my arms wide. I felt like people were watching us but it felt like they were smiling. And it didn't matter because the warmest thing in the room was Adinah's face, smiling up at me, her papa.
Sometimes our daughter is so unafraid it makes me realize how uptight I can be. She's really something else, this girl.