Brent Cross is a multicultural hub; families from everywhere, kids of all skin tones. Women in robes, dresses, headscarves in a spread of colors both bright and drab. An endless flow of mother tongues, alongside English delivered in multiple cadences. And so many Jews, they barely glance at one another in any attempt for recognition. My own moderate headscarf does not register a perceptible glance from anyone, and I feel a sort of relativity effect, an at-oddness with both the bare-headed, spaghetti strap world on my left, and the thoroughly wrapped opacity on my right. Neither covering, nor lack of one, exposes the ideas and beliefs within the minds around me.
If I were a white Christian male here, I would feel left out, slightly noteworthy, a minority. Perhaps this rainbow effect now means the white majority no longer feels comfortable coming here. Perhaps it no longer exists, or never did.
At home I sometimes joke about retail therapy, the occasional -- and temporary -- pick-me-up for an emotional trying day at work. Abroad, it has already become both a chore, albeit an enjoyable one, and an opportunity. Elder P taking mental notes on the people around her, asking few questions while, I can assume, sitting tight on others which will surface eventually. She's an observant kid, she knows how to make comparisons, and one day soon knowing the answers will become more urgent.
Meanwhile, my headspace is still lingering back at home, ruminating over its own troubled comparisons. If, here, those people wearing head coverings are drawing any suspicion, I cannot feel it, although they themselves might.
The marketplace has always been a meeting place, and no less now than before, among our skylights and window dressings and vast air-conditioned spaces. Retail as the great commons, or commonality. I enjoy being here, and even knowing such a place exists, whether I come to purchase, or to find comfort and captivation in the purchasers.
Keep the balance,